Cherry picking

Your article, “NHS facing threat from US deal, says Sturgeon” (19 February), refers to legal advice given to Unite that public health providers could be exposed to private “cherry picking” under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the US and the EU.

As the Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, has said, the EU will make sure governments do not have to open up any of their public services markets (such as publicly funded health services) to private operators if they do not want to, and that should they choose to do so, there is nothing to prevent them reversing this decision in future.

It makes no difference whether a member state already allows some services to be outsourced to private providers or not.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

An Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in TTIP could not prevent a service being brought back in to the public sector or force the payment of compensation for such an action.

Authorities retain the right to open or close a particular public service to competition should they choose to in the future.

A decision not to renew a contract would not give grounds for an ISDS claim.

Graham Blythe

European Commission in Scotland