People’s health in the UK and across Europe is threatened by plans to introduce measures that could lower vital health, consumer safety and environmental standards to dangerous levels, say 71 public health organisations from 41 European countries in a joint statement today (13 March).
The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) are calling on the EU to oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and United States.
Professor John Ashton, President of FPH, said: “We believe TTIP is a threat to the public’s health. The EU tells us that corporations won’t be able to force the UK government to change its laws. Yet, they could force the government to pay vast sums of taxpayer’s money in compensation if laws do not suit the interests of shareholders. That could mean that critical standards that protect the public’s health against unsafe consumer goods, dangerous workplaces and environmental hazards may be lowered to dangerous levels.”
FPH calls for the EU to reject TTIP and put health before profit in Trading Health?, its in-depth policy report on TTIP, which is launched today.
Professor Ashton continued: “TTIP could also mean that governments would be taken to an international tribunal by foreign private investors for introducing laws that could save lives, such as standard packs for tobacco, minimum unit pricing for alcohol or for consistent food labelling. Good and necessary laws like these would protect and improve people’s health and reduce pressure on our already overburdened NHS.
“TTIP would also increase competition in the NHS, fragment services and make it harder to give patients high quality, integrated care. It risks increasing the cost of vital medicines, including cancer drugs, for patients across Europe.”
Professor Martin McKee, President of EUPHA, said: “TTIP will take the power to make decisions away from democratically elected politicians and put it in the hands of a mechanism that is beyond public scrutiny and outside the UK court system. EUPHA and FPH are calling on the European Union to put health before profit and reject TTIP. We need healthy communities for economic growth.”