Trade Agreements and Health: A new round of negotiations in Brussels

On the 2nd and 3rd, I was in the European Public Health Alliance’s (EPHA) secretariat talking about TTIP, understanding the status of the negotiations from the EU side and defining a strategy for IFMSA to tackle this issue.

We’ve also worked in approaching some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who work for the ENVI Committee (the committee of the European Parliament dedicated to Environment and Public Health) in order to disseminate our concerns regarding the TTIP and Health.

The 8th Round of Discussion took place on the 4th of February, involving both United States (US) and European Union (EU) negotiators and stakeholders – like IFMSA – from both sides. In the morning, the 85 (!!!) stakeholders got the chance to present their concerns about the TTIP to the negotiators and to liaise with them about other questions.

I presented to the negotiators, orally, on behalf of IFMSA, our main concerns regarding global health and asked for the following:

  • To ensure the legal right for all EU member states, the European Union and the United States to legislate in the interests of public health. •
  • To ensure the highest standards of quality frameworks and professional qualifications health
  • To make sure that public health will not be seen merely as barrier to trade but will be mainstreamed into TTIP

In the afternoon Ignacio Garcia Bercero (EU Chief Negotiator) and Dan Mullaney (USA Chief Negotiator) gave us an overview of the current status of the negotiations. In what comes to health, they have assured that there would be regulatory freedom which would allow the high-quality standards of public services, including health, at the same time that the TTIP would lower the duplication of pharmaceutical control between nations, by promoting reliance on each other inspection of factories’ procedures.

On the 5th of February, took place the 2nd Annual EU-US Trade Conference. Many stakeholders and negotiators have attended this meeting, which was another good and fruitful moment to  talk with decision-makers and other stakeholders. The messages that we’re transmuted were quite similar to the ones that we’ve received the day before.

Nonetheless, we still have many concerns regarding the potential impact of TTIP on Health related issues, namely the extension of legal patents, the pricing and reimbursement of medicines, the effect on medical education and health workforce mobility and the negative impact on environmental issues.

I was very lucky to have some IFMSA members joining me during these two days, on behalf of their NMOs: Alexander Huybrechts, Alexander Brezina and Prerna Chaudhary from BeMSA-Belgium and Christian Koop from bvmd-Germany. On the way we also met Pascal Nohl-Deryk from the European Medical Students’ Association (EMSA).

We will keep on working in this issue to ensure that our (your!) voice is heard and that health is protected in case TTIP gets to a final agreement. Keep tuned!

Entry written by Alberto Abreu da Silva, Regional Coordinator for Europe 2014-2015

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