European Parliamentarians Make Demands of Negotiators of Services Agreement
The ongoing talks on a Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), among countries representing 70 percent of world trade in services, 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, say members of the European Parliament in recently approved recommendations.
To protect the EU firms from unfair competition abroad, MEPs ask the EU negotiators for reciprocity in market opening, especially in public procurement, telecoms, transport, financial and digital services;
curbs on restrictive practices against EU firms, such as forced data localization or foreign equity caps; and less red tape for small and medium enterprises.
The MEPs also urged negotiators not to compromise on EU citizens’ data protection; to accept only highly-skilled foreign workers, on contracts and for a strictly limited period of time; to protect the right of EU, national and local legislators to regulate in the public interest; and to negotiate a revision clause that makes it possible for a party to leave the TiSA if labor and social standards are infringed.
“Today’s vote is a breakthrough,” said MEP Viviane Reding, of Luxembourg, after Parliament backed her resolution by 532 votes to 131. “Yesterday, the European Commission had a blank check. Today, it is bound by a very clear parliamentary mandate. If our recommendations are respected, then TiSA will afford more rights to our citizens at home and remove some obstacles to our companies abroad. If not, the Parliament will not hesitate to veto this 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 percent of global trade in services.