When actions do not match aspirations - comparison of the European Union policy claims against what has been negotiated for health services, trade and investment

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Abstract

Background: Obligations arising from trade and investment agreements can affect how governments can regulate and organise health systems. The European Union has made explicit statements of safeguarding policy space for health systems. We assessed to what extent health systems were safeguarded in trade negotiations using the European Union (EU) negotiation proposals for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the negotiated agreement for the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Methods: We assessed if and to what extent the European Union policy assurances were upheld in trade negotiations. Our assessment was made using three process tracing informed tests. The tests examined: i) what was covered in negotiation proposals of services and investment chapters, ii) if treatment of health services differed from treatment of another category of services (audiovisual services) with similar EU Treaty considerations, and iii) if other means of general exceptions, declarations or emphases on right to regulate could have resulted in the same outcome. Results: Our analysis shows that the European Union had sought to secure policy space for publicly funded health services for services chapter, but not for investment and investment protection chapters. In comparison to audiovisual services, exceptions for health services fall short from those on audiovisual services. There is little evidence that the same outcome could have been achieved using other avenues. Conclusions: The European Union has not achieved its own assurances of protection of regulatory policy space for health services in trade negotiations. The European Union trade negotiation priorities need to change to ensure that its negotiation practices comply with its own assurances for health services and sustainable financing of health systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number98
JournalGlobalization and Health
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • European Union
  • Globalization
  • Health policy
  • Health systems
  • Trade

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 0

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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