Commission rejects private sector attack on public funding of hospitals

(5 July 2016)  EPSU welcomes ruling European Commission against private sector in case of public funding for Brussels Hospitals – a warning call on ISDS, ICS

The European Commission has today published a ruling in favour of public funding for a group of hospitals in Brussels. The case was brought by private sector companies who argued that the public funding was illegal state aid. The Commission decision makes clear that the public hospitals do things the private sector does not. The public hospitals have as the Commission says “the duty to treat all patients in all circumstances (including non-emergency situations), regardless of patients' ability to pay. They ensure that also the poorest members of the Brussels population have access to the hospital services they need and guarantee the accessibility to high quality hospital care for all.” Public financial support of the public hospitals in form of state aid linked to these tasks ensures as the Commission says “that the public hospitals can continue to fulfil their public service obligations” and that social rights of the whole population can be guaranteed.

EPSU General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan commented: “This is a welcome ruling. We should realise that no public service is safe from corporate interests. Some private businesses would rather see the poor suffer than receive proper care, unless of course they can earn money from it.”  He argued further: “This complaint received by two associations of private hospitals against publicly provided and financed care should be a wake-up call for all who believe that private sector companies will not exploit each and any loophole in the commercial Treaties like CETA and TTIP. They will use and abuse investor protections and extract money from the public to fund corporate coffers.”

EPSU has analysed the Trade agreement between the EU and Canada, CETA. It does not exclude public services from these treaties. EPSU and many other organisations are campaigning to stop CETA.

For the EPSU analysis 

For the Commission ruling on the state aid case