EU still '˜packed with positives' for region

Fears about the threat to the NHS posed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been expressed at a meeting in Berwick.

Friday, 4th March 2016, 8:27 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 9:06 am
Residents hands in 1000 signatures calling to protect NHS from TTIP
Residents hands in 1000 signatures calling to protect NHS from TTIP

Held at the Granary on Friday, speakers included Jude Kirton-Darling (MEP for the North East and a member of the Trade Committee in the European Parliament), Simon Roy and Frank Robson (campaigners for The People’s NHS in the North East).

Using recent legal advice from specialist barristers, they explained how privatised NHS services would not be exempt from huge compensation claims if, in the future, the Government wished to take the services back into public hands, or even to transfer them to an alternative provider.

Many NHS contracts are currently being awarded to private companies, many of which are multinational corporations.

The meeting heard how such fears had also been communicated to Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan in a 1,000-strong petition.

The People’s NHS has called for Mrs Trevelyan to seek release of the legal advice, currently being withheld by the Government.

Those attending the meeting, organised by Berwick Trades Union Council, were all concerned that the MP should urge the necessary exclusions to prevent the NHS falling irreversibly into the hands of American multinationals or other foreign investors.

Ms Kirton-Darling, who also attended a public meeting about the neighbourhood plan and spoke to local people about how they would like to see the town develop, spoke about the benefits of EU membership and TTIP, the trade deal between the US and Europe.

She said: “Our membership of the European Union is packed with positives for the North East. We get £10 out of the EU for every £1 we put in through increased trade and growth, and because the North East is a net beneficiary of European funding, we also get our original £1 back.”

She added: “Our access to the single market allows North East businesses to trade and grow, and creates employment. There are 160,000 jobs across the region which rely on trade with the EU. The EU invests in our region, through and European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, and over the next five years the North East will get over £600m in EU funds.

“It also protects our rights, the EU granted British workers the right to paid holiday pay and parental leave. The EU also helps to keep us safe, protecting us from criminals through schemes like the European Arrest Warrant, and helping to maintain peace across Europe. The EU has also improved our environment, cleaning up our beaches and improving our air quality.

“The Labour Party strongly believes that membership the EU is the best thing for our country and for the North East.”