The European Union would like to see healthcare, medical devices, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States. The EU’s negotiations team met with representatives of non-profits and other civil society organizations to defend these categories in the trade agreement. The inclusion of healthcare has triggered an upheaval among trade unions and NGOs that point out the striking contrast between the U.S. private system and the universal healthcare in Europe.
According to David Hammerstein, senior advisor on intellectual property for the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue in Brussels, there are concerns that “the safety and efficacy of new medicines will be jeopardized by new deregulation proposals”. However, at the same time, the TTIP is believed to have the potential to chill legislation providing greater access to affordable medical treatment. In Mr Hammerstein’s opinion, the U.S.-EU deal will also reinforce corporate power over commercial confidentiality and decrease the transparency of clinical data.
However, opponents say that issues, which are not part of the TTIP, should not be included there. According to Marco Dueerkop, Deputy Head of the Unit covering services at the Commission’s DG Trade, “it’s very much up to the Member States which sectors they want to open up to the market and this reflects societal choices”. Mr Dueerkop then added that “this will not impact the question on whether we want the private sector to play a bigger role in the health sector”. Sebastien Goux of the Commission’s health unit covering medicinal products moreover argued that TTIP gives the block an opportunity to deal with a small number of selected areas where the U.S. does not have the same level of protection, such as data protection or copyright.