TiSA: the global service trade pact

External Relations

Yesterday, the European Parliament’s Plenary adopted recommendations to the European Commission on the ongoing ‘Trade in Services’ (TiSA) agreement. Negotiations for a Trade in Services Agreement, under way since April 2013, aim to establish global minimum requirements for trade in sectors such as financial, digital and transport services. Participants now include 23 WTO members, who together account for 70% of global trade in services

The ongoing talks on a Trade in Services Agreement should deliver a deal that eases EU firms’ access to international markets but does not force EU, national and local authorities to open up public services to competition, or otherwise restrict their right to regulate in public interest.

“Today’s vote is a breakthrough. I am proud to have gathered wide support across the political spectrum to change the orientation of EU trade policy, in the interest of EU companies and consumers alike”, said rapporteur Viviane Reding (EPP,LU).

While the text generally approves the ongoing talks, some red lines have been set, in order to bring concrete benefits to consumers, whilst safeguarding both present and future levels of protection.

The EP has excluded from the negotiations:

  • EU public services, such as education, health, social services, social security systems, and audiovisual services,
  • EU citizens’ data protection must be up to current ng and future standards,
  • the EU should agree to accept only highly-skilled foreign workers, on contracts and for a strictly limited period of time,
  • the right of EU, national and local legislators to regulate in the public interest must be strongly protected, as should be their right to change their minds, if they wish to re-nationalize services which have previously been open to private competition, and

Moreover, the deal should include a revision clause that makes it possible for a party to leave the TiSA or reverse commitments on liberalisation of a service if labour and social standards are infringed.

The EP has supported China’s request to join the negotiations and seek to ensure future “multilateralisation” of the agreement.

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