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EUA monitors the international trade agreements which the European Commission negotiates, on behalf of EU member states, with third country partners and regions. While such agreements do not necessarily include higher education, neither do they automatically exclude it.

Article 1.3 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) excludes “any services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority [and supplied] neither on a commercial basis nor in competition with one or more service suppliers”.

How such services are defined is nevertheless open to interpretation. As higher education institutions explore diverse funding streams, the distinctions between public, private, not-for-profit and for-profit are increasingly unclear.

In September 2001, EUA together with the American Council of Education (ACE), the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) issued a Joint Declaration on the General Agreement on Trades and Services (GATS). In January 2015, EUA Council issued a statement calling for no commitments on higher education to be made in ongoing negotiations.

New bilateral and plurilateral trade negotiations have recently been launched:

  • Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada
  • Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US
  • Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), with over 20 countries including the EU and the US

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96