Plenary speech on negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

On February 1, Marietje Schake spoke in the plenary about the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group Mr President, the European Union is the world leader when it comes to the export of services. We expect the sector to become even more important. Our service providers are competitive, as the EU itself is already very open and foreign companies are treated equally on our market. There is therefore a lot to be gained by seeing more countries reciprocally opening up their markets to EU service providers and having a level playing field across a larger group of countries. In fact, we would ultimately like TiSA to become a multilateral agreement. Similarly, services are being developed in new areas, such as the digital economy, which will require the rules to be updated. Everyone with internet access could in principle offer a service in a third country. The Trade in Services Agreement should contribute to clear rules to ensure that principles such as fair competition, but also fundamental rights, are respected. In today’s report the Parliament calls on the Commission to aim for an ambitious agreement, especially in sectors such as e-commerce, telecommunication, financial services, procurement and transport. I think – and this is important to underline amidst all the concerns that also have to be addressed today – that we have every reason to be self-confident. This Parliament does confirm existing legislation and standards are not lowered and free trade should follow rules. Therefore, public services and audiovisual services are also confirmed to be excluded in our report, and TiSA cannot force national governments to break open monopolies on the provision of, for example, water or electricity. I am happy to see that we have, together with the shadow rapporteurs and all colleagues, worked on an interim report on these very important negotiations, and we hope that you will continue to represent the EU with the ambition and self-confidence that we should have here to make sure that the rules-based system is strengthened and that more countries come on board and that trade-in-services relations become more reciprocal. Marietje Schaake then received a blue card question from William (The Earl of) Dartmouth: William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFDD), blue-card question I would like to thank Mrs Schaake very much for taking this blue card and for showing a courtesy of which Ms McClarkin is clearly incapable. My question is this: do you think that labour rights should be installed, ipso facto, into all the EU’s trade agreements, or do you think that labour rights are better determined and decided at the national level? Marietje Schaake's response to the question: Marietje Schaake (ALDE), blue-card answer What we have put in this resolution that deals with the trade-in-services negotiations that are ongoing, is that we would like to see all the other partners to this agreement ultimately respect labour rights as enshrined under the ILO. But I agree with my colleague from the UK, Jude Kirton-Darling, when she says that the practice of respecting standards is more important than seeking to underline demands on paper which may not be realistic. So, indeed, strengthening the rules-based system in trade, including trade in services, is there to raise the bar when it comes to standards, including labour rights.
See also: TiSA – Strengthening rules-based trade in services