Welcome to the RCN's international webpages. The RCN Policy and International Department works closely with members through the RCN International Committee. Find out more about the committee and the RCN's international work (PDF 382 KB). You can also read in more detail more about the Policy and International Department in what we do.
Policy and international news
RCN publishes position statement on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
The RCN has developed a position statement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty currently being negotiated between the EU and the US, calling for health services to be removed from any agreement.
Members at RCN Congress 2014 voted overwhelmingly to lobby against the inclusion of health services within TTIP, and the RCN has subsequently identified five key lobbying objectives to ensure that health services are protected from the agreement.
RCN members are concerned that unless health services are removed from any agreement, future governments will be unable to pass laws to remove legislation that encourages the marketisation of health services, or to introduce progressive public health policies.
The position statement calls for greater transparency, a cast-iron guarantee that health services will be exempted and the removal of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism from the agreement.
RCN campaigns to keep pharmaceuticals under European health commissioner’s control
The RCN has been campaigning to reverse a decision by the incoming President of the EU to move the remit for pharmaceutical policy, medical devices, and health technologies away from the health commissioner to the portfolio of the commissioner for internal market and industry.
The restructure, announced by President-elect Jean Claude Juncker, caused major controversy in the health community, due to concerns about risks posed by the increasing commercialisation of health services to public health, patient safety, and quality of care.
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dr Peter Carter wrote to UK MEPs sitting on the committees concerned to express serious reservations about the move. The letter, sent in September, pointed out that in the UK, the responsibility for pharmaceutical policy rests with the Secretary of State for Health, and this has proved an effective approach. It called on the MEPs to push for health in all policies to become an economic and legislative reality, and not to allow profit and market considerations to override public health objectives.
European Public Health Alliance, one of the RCN’s key partners, was among 28 organisations which signed an open letter to Juncker objecting to the change and arguing that the proposed shift “sends the wrong signal to European citizens and patients – namely that economic interests come before their health.”
There are rumours in Brussels that the campaign has proved successful and that Juncker is making a U-turn on the policy.
European Commission consultation on TTIP investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism
The RCN has responded to a consultation on the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism within the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (known as TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.
The ISDS mechanism would be a separate international arbitration panel which could rule on whether future UK domestic legislation is compatible with the terms of the TTIP. There are concerns that if health services are included within the agreement, then the ISDS mechanism could overturn future legislation which is deemed incompatible with TTIP.
In June at RCN Congress, RCN members debated a resolution urging the RCN to "lobby against the inclusion of health services in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership". This resolution received overwhelming support, with more than 97 per cent of members voting in its favour.
During the discussion that accompanied the resolution, RCN members articulated a number of key principles that form the basis for the RCN’s position on TTIP.
Read the RCN’s position on the ISDS mechanism within TTIP (PDF 71.1 KB).
Briefing on the impacts of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive
The RCN has published a briefing on the new EU Tobacco Products Directive. The RCN has a long history of supporting measures to enhance tobacco control and reduce smoking rates and health inequalities, as well as measures to protect children and young people from smoking and from exposure to tobacco promotion.
During the progress of the directive, the RCN actively lobbied MEPs and UK ministers on the content of the directive, and worked closely with the European Public Health Alliance, of which it is a member, to support lobbying in Brussels. While not all of the initial proposals were included in the final directive, the RCN supports the final text of the Tobacco Products Directive and calls on the UK Government to transpose the legislation into national law as soon as possible.
Consultation on introducing the European Professional Card (EPC)
The RCN has responded to a European Commission consultation on a proposed European Professional Card (EPC). The RCN's view is that this should not come at any extra financial cost to nurses, and the card should be trialled in a time-limited pilot, undertaken initially with a profession for which there are fewer public safety implications than nursing. The card is also being proposed for doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, engineers, mountain guides and real estate agents.
The RCN has published a manifesto on our priorities in Europe for the next five years. Our members told us we should work on championing safe staffing levels, ensuring an appropriately educated and developed workforce, supporting access to health care services - particularly for vulnerable groups, and promoting healthier lifestyles. The manifesto can be used to lobby local MEP candidates and MEPs on issues important to nursing and patients.
Launch of partnership with Zambian Union of Nurses Organisations
The RCN and the Zambian Union of Nurses Organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, formalising a partnership to strengthen the professional function of both organisations. Paula Hancock from the RCN's International Committee joined a videoconference with Zambian and RCN colleagues in January, during which the memorandum was formally signed. Read more.
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