I would like to update constituents on two major concerns that have been raised recently regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

 

TTIP Reading Room

The Government and the European Commission have been working to inform the public about TTIP and to explain its potential benefits to people and to businesses. It is important to remember that this is a negotiation, however, and making all positions available publicly at this stage of the negotiations would jeopardise our chances of getting the best deal for the UK and the EU.  

The Government has supported greater transparency and I am pleased that the Commission is adopting a more open approach. Following pressure from Member States, the Commission and the US have also agreed that national parliamentarians should have similar access to classified TTIP documents, including consolidated texts, via reading rooms.  

As you are aware, restrictions placed on these rooms include that they are only accessible to officials of Member State central governments and Members of Member State national Parliaments. Due to the sensitive nature of these classified documents, however, all those who are granted access to them, such as myself, are expected to handle and protect them appropriately.  

However, more documents relating to negotiations will be made publically available as the process continues and a wealth of material has already been published on the European Commission's website.

 

TTIP and the NHS

I can assure you that the Government is committed to an NHS that is there for everyone who needs it, funded from general taxation and free at the point of use. TTIP will not affect how the NHS decides who is best to provide its services.

Negotiators from the United States and the European Union have confirmed that it will continue to be for EU member states to make decisions about whether and to what extent they involve the private sector in the provision of public services. The EU's chief negotiator on TTIP has stated that EU countries will continue to be free to decide how they run their public health systems. A letter from the EU trade Commissioner, Celia Malstrom, to the former UK Trade Minister, Lord Livingston, confirming this is published here: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/july/tradoc_152665.pdf

Ultimately, there are no examples whereby the NHS has been adversely affected by a trade deal. Even concerning investment protection provisions, the UK has around 90 agreements, with a consecutive running time of over 2,000 years, and none have adversely affected the NHS.      The NHS is already protected by an "annex II" exemption in all EU trade deals, which is known as the "public utilities clause" and exempts any public services from the commitments under the Free Trade Agreement. This is the case in our agreements with Korea, Canada, Central America, Columbia and Peru, and with Singapore as it will be with TTIP. You can find a brief outline as to these exclusions on the European Commission's website, as well as links to open letters from Commissioner Malmström at the following address: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1115   The addition of a repeated annex II exemption for the NHS would consequently be unnecessary given the general exclusion.

Any investment provisions included in TTIP will strike the appropriate balance between protection for UK investors abroad, and ensuring the Government is not prevented from acting in the public interest in areas such as public health and the NHS.

I hope this helps to clarify the situation.