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European parliament postpones controversial TTIP vote twice

European parliament postpones controversial TTIP vote twice

The European parliament has again postponed the vote on TTIP, which many fear could negatively change the standard of care in the NHS
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The European parliament has again postponed the vote on the controversial The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which many fear could negatively change the standard of care in the NHS.

Today the European Parliament suspended the vote “due to disruption in the chamber”. The decision to suspend the vote was put forward first thing this morning and voted by the chamber with 183 in favour, 181 against and 37 abstentions.

Similarly they chose to postpone the vote yesterday, which amedia representative from the European Parliament said is “rare” and means that the plenary at large, as well as the committee, wanted a large number of amendments. More than 50 amendments were suggested at the plenary so the president chose yesterday to postpone the vote so there can be further consultation.

TTIP aims to align differences between the EU and US  in key areas such as health, environmental health, and workplace health and labour standards, which Mark Weiss, senior policy officer at The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) said is risking a lowering of those standards.

He said: “[TTIP] aims to ‘maximise liberalisation’ of access to EU public procurement and services markets – presenting grave risks to the NHS and other public services.

“Without urgent revision, TTIP poses a serious risk to physical and mental health and wellbeing – and of increasing inequalities. FPH therefore calls on the EU to reject the negotiating mandate for TTIP in its entirety.”

Weiss said that TTIP may increase the cost of vital medicines, by granting very strong patent protections to pharmaceutical companies.

“TTIP may increase tobacco related harms, particularly among young people, by limiting the ability to regulate tobacco advertising; increase alcohol related disorders and community disruption, by limiting the ability to regulate alcohol availability and marketing, and restrict governments’ ability to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods, associated with increased rates of obesity and related health outcomes, by limiting the ability to introduce food labelling policies.”

However, Daniel Hamilton, director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at John Hopkins University, said TTIP is“an effort to ensure that high standards enjoyed on each side of the Atlantic are preserved and enhanced, rather than eroded, as both the US and the EU engage with third countries whose standards do not often match those found across the Atlantic.

“No EU or US trade agreement requires governments to privatise any service, or prevents governments from expanding the range of services they supply to the public,” he said.

If the European Parliament approves the TTIP agreement it will next go to the British parliament and 27 other EU parliaments, as well as the US Senate and the US House of Representatives for their approval.

 

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