Education has to be excluded from the TTIP negotiations
Finnish Adult Education Association (FAEA) is deeply concerned by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and its possible consequences. FAEA wants to firmly underline that (adult) education is a public good and asks the European Commission and the Member States to exclude (adult) education from the negotiations.
The TTIP negotiations have so far taken place behind closed doors, but from the information that other organizations have leaked and/or commented, FAEA knows that the documents so far say that "services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority" will be excluded from the negotiations. This formulation is dangerous and weak, as it opens the floor to various interpretations and even contradicting interpretations. FAEA agrees with European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) arguments that "proposed exceptions would apply only to services that are provided on a non-commercial basis and not in competition with other suppliers. In other words, if any part of a country´s education system is provided on a commercial or for-fee basis, or if private schools operate, education may not benefit from the general exclusion. In education systems throughout the EU some elements of fees are common, e.g. students fees and school books." This clearly means that the phrasing of the exception is inadequate and insufficient. It has to be formulated in a different way.
We have also been informed that adult education (e.g. literacy courses, but also other general and vocational provision) is part of the negotiations. We strongly oppose this inclusion - the European benchmark on adult education has decreased and stagnated instead of growing, which shows that it is already difficult to provide affordable adult education for learners.
FAEA also agrees with EAEA and ETUCE that the "negative list approach" is dangerous and should be replaced by a "positive listing". The latter is much clearer and will not lead in the future to conflicting interpretations. Other trade agreements have chosen this approach in the past it should be the one of all trade agreements, as it is safer for all parties and will avoid potential future disputes.
FAEA asks the European Commission and the Member States to entirely and formally exclude education from the negotiation on the TTIP. FAEA also supports the statements of other organizations that asked for the exclusion of education and public services from the TTIP and underlined that education is a public good and cannot be dependent on commercial and trade agreements.
Finnish Adult Education Association
Työ- ja elinkienoministeriö
Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö
Euroopan parlamentin suomalaiset edustajat