The US and the EU wrapped up a week of secret trade talks over the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership on Friday.
Critics say TTIP would allow a de facto takeover by multinational corporations of the EU’s regulatory framework, handing too much power to big business.
At a press conference on Friday, negotiators attempted to address concerns that European health and welfare systems would be at risk.
“We heard the concern that our negotiations should not require privatisation of public services such as water utilities, education, national healthcare,” said Dan Mullaney, US chief TTIP negotiator.
“So, we welcome the opportunity to confirm that the United States does not include such provisions in its trade agreements and will not do so in this negotiation,” he added.
Backers say TTIP would create wealth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and still uphold regulatory standards, something the EU representative Garcia-Bercero was keen to affirm.
“Nothing will be done which could lower or endanger the protection of the environment, health, safety, consumers, data privacy or indeed any other public policy goal,” he said.
Stefan Grobe, our correspondent in Washington, said negotiators were still cagey about what had been agreed in the seventh round of talks:
“The chief negotiators also addressed the controversial issue of transparency, although not convincingly. The talks were held in secret, only a minimum of information was given to the media and neither one was willing to say how many more rounds of talks we should expect,” Grobe said.