HRK on TTIP: Education is Not a Commodity

18. May 2015

The German Rectors' Conference (HRK) is calling for education to be explicitly excluded from TTIP, the planned free trade agreement between the EU and the USA. In TTIP, education services are not defined as 'public services'. Under the logic of the agreement, all areas not to be covered by the agreement must be explicitly excluded.

"State-provided services of general interest should be excluded from the TTIP negotiations as a matter of principle. Education, art and culture do not belong in the trade agreement," said HRK President Prof. Dr. Horst Hippler in Bonn today, commenting on the declaration of the 18th HRK General Meeting.

"On each side of the Atlantic there are culturally anchored different understandings of the responsibility for education. While in Germany and many parts of Europe, education, art and culture are recognised as social responsibilities which should be funded by society as a whole, in the USA, these areas tend to be seen as a private investment by the individual. I do not see any social consensus in Germany for greater commercialisation.

The framework for private education providers should continue to be defined by our state bodies so that any undesirable developments can be corrected by political means. In the case of uncontrolled deregulation, this would be impossible."

This risk applies at European, national and state level, he added. The HRK is therefore calling on the European Commission to wholly exclude education from the free trade agreement TTIP.

The HRK is calling on the federal and state governments in Germany to ensure, by lodging timely objections with the European Commission, that they retain their powers of regulation with regard to both state and private education.

The European Union is currently negotiating with the USA on the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The purpose of the TTIP negotiations is to harmonise trade, investment and public procurement rules between the EU and the US. The TTIP agreement will mean that state regulation of sectors where free trade applies will become impossible or limited.

Text of the resolution