General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

ETUCE is a strong advocator of free quality public education for all and maintains that education is a human right and a public good, which is the responsibility of governments. ETUCE monitors international trade and investment agreements that the EU is pursuing and which may expose the education sector to privatisation and commercialisation pressures. ETUCE urges decision makers to entirely exclude education from trade agreements. Formally these trade agreements currently being negotiated are about trade, that is lowing tariff rates and quotas, however the main issues concern regulatory convergence and the elimination of "non-tariff" barrier to trade. Therefore, such trade agreements pose potentially serious risks for education policy, for public schools and other educational institutions, as well as for teachers, students and communities in the EU.

Related topics

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) was adopted in 1994 as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Prior to its adoption ETUCE lobbied strongly against the inclusion of education into the scope of GATS. The GATS is a multilateral agreement that defines restrictions on a broad range of government measures that affect trade in services. There are compelling reasons to be concerned that the GATS poses serious threats to vital public interest regulations, including those governing education. Fundamentally, GATS commits WTO members to a liberalisation agenda, not only by eliminating barriers to trade and investment in services, but also by encouraging countries that have privatised, contracted out their public services or deregulated them to cement in these liberalisations by making relevant education services commitments under the GATS.