Ask Full Fact: TTIP in or out?

9 June 2016

“Will we be better in or out in regards to TTIP?”

Full Fact readers

TTIP (pronounced “tee-tip”) stands for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, an agreement the European Union has been negotiating with the United States since 2013.

Whatever you think is best with regards to TTIP, the UK would be a part of the deal if the UK votes to stay in the EU. In this scenario the deal, and any changes in EU legislation that result from it, will apply to the UK.

If the UK leaves the EU then we will not be part of the deal, but the government might also try to negotiate its own deal with the USA covering similar ground.

There has been no final text published yet, so it’s impossible to be certain about the end result of TTIP.

Giving American businesses more access to EU markets

TTIP aims to make it easier for European businesses to trade and invest in America and vice versa. This will be done partly by reducing or removing import taxes called tariffs, and aligning standards and regulations.

American businesses would also get guarantees of access to the EU market in the same way as European companies, including being able to bid for more public contracts.

The EU has tried to allay concerns about the NHS

Campaigners have voiced a number of concerns about TTIP, among them that it will risk the forced privatisation of the NHS.

The European Commission has assured governments that health services will remain under their control and provided examples of wording designed to ensure this. The EU Trade Commissioner has written to the UK government several times confirming this.

As there is no final text to consider yet, it’s difficult to be certain about the end result and the legal issues are complex. It comes down to trusting the European Commission to negotiate on our behalf.

The UK will be part of TTIP if we stay in the EU

If the UK voted to stay in the EU and the TTIP agreement goes through, then it would certainly apply to us.

The negotiators want to agree TTIP in 2016 before a new administration takes office in the USA, but no fixed date has so far been set.

The next round of negotiations is due to begin in July.

If TTIP were concluded and the UK left the EU after this, then we would not remain part of the agreement. Under these circumstances the UK and US would need to negotiate separately if both countries wanted to put a trade deal in place.

If we stay in the EU, the UK government would be able to block TTIP if it wanted

Both the European Commission and the government agree that it is likely that individual member states will have to ratify the final TTIP deal.

In theory this means that British ministers could veto the TTIP deal if they felt the UK’s interests weren’t being served. MPs would also be able to delay the deal if they disagreed.

Every other EU country would need to support the deal as well, something which is currently in question.

One poll published in April this year suggested that one in three Germans think that TTIP is a bad thing, compared to 17% who think it’s a good thing. The French president has said that his government would not support TTIP in its current form.

Leaving the EU doesn’t mean the UK would be totally unaffected by TTIP

If the UK voted to leave the EU then we would not be bound by the TTIP agreement. But it might still have some impact on the UK.

Whether it does or not would depend on the type of deal the UK negotiated with the EU.

EU laws covering public procurement and state aid still cover countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), like Norway. If TTIP meant that the EU changed some of its regulations in these areas then the changes would apply in the EEA too.

If we left the single market entirely rather than trying to join the EEA, TTIP wouldn’t have even that indirect impact.

There could be a TTIP-like deal between the UK and the US

The UK may choose to negotiate its own trade deal with the United States anyway, as it is an important market. In 2014 it was our single top export partner, buying 17% in British goods and services.

The EU is our largest export partner when considered as a whole. In the same year it received 45% of UK exports. In comparison our top export partner within the EU, Germany, received 8% of UK exports in 2014.

Both the US President and his Trade Representative have cast doubt on whether a deal with the UK would be an immediate priority for the US in the short term if we were to leave the EU. However, this will depend on the US administration at the time of any potential EU exit.

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