Education International
Education International

Report warns on public services in Canada-EU trade talks

published 16 September 2011 updated 22 September 2011

A new report commissioned for the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour says the European Union is weakening protections for public services like education in current trade negotiations with Canada.

The study, “ Public services in the Draft Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)”, by Markus Krajewski of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg finds that the current proposals introduce a new negotiation model that can limit the ability of governments to organise, finance and provide public services.

“Unlike the GATS and all other free trade agreements ratified by the EU so far, the CETA would employ a so-called negative list approach,” the paper notes. “A negative list approach means that the core obligations of the agreement…apply generally, unless the parties of the agreement explicitly include existing or potential measures which would violate these obligations in specific annexes of the agreement.”

Compared to existing agreements in which the EU has listed sectors that it agrees to liberalize, “the negative list approach tends to have a more liberalising effect, because all sectors and measures are subject to the core obligations,” the report concludes.

The introduction of a “negative list” approach means that stronger and more specific exemptions for public services are required, but Prof. Krajewski argues the latest EC proposal actually reduces those protections.

The study is part of a series of research papers on public services and trade agreements which will be released during a seminar on 7 November in Brussels.