European Parliament hearing on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

(27 February 2015) On 24 February the European Parliament (EP) trade committee (INTA) organised a hearing on TiSA. EPSU was invited to speak and you can find EPSU’s background paper for the hearing attached below and also on [the EP website along with other presentations->]. The hearing took pace in the context of the preparation by the EP of a report on TiSA, expected towards the end of 2015 on TiSA. Viviane Reding MEP, who is responsible for drafting the report, said clearly at the hearing that the protection of public services, social standards and the right to regulate will be key demands and that TiSA must secure upwards progress for all. The representative from the European Commission who took part in the hearing said that the ‘right to regulate’ will not be compromised by TiSA but at the same time also confirmed that the EU wants to remove in the ‘domestic regulation’ chapter unnecessary barriers to trade in services, which includes licensing requirements and other authorisation schemes (i.e. regulations). Professor Marcus Krajewski said that the ‘hybrid’ approach (positive listing for market access, negative listing for national treatment) adopted by the negotiators may be more complex to understand than at first sight as in effect some market access elements may be included in the national treatment. He also queried the ratchet mechanism in TiSA. In reply to a question, Professor Krajewski said that there is not one magic formula to exclude public services - a number of steps are needed to incorporate protections throughout all part of the agreements. UNI Europa postal sector was also represented - here UNI Europa recalled the disastrous experience with postal liberalisation on employment and quality of universal service. Speakers from the services industries called for further liberalisation. Many speakers called for more transparency, not only of the EU’s offers but of the requests made by other parties.