TTIP, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, sounds boring. It is a proposed EU–US trade agreement which is scheduled to be ratified later this year.
It may sound innocent and progressive – just about facilitating trade – but do not be fooled; TTIP and its sister agreement CETA (between the EU and Canada) are dangerous deals that puts the interests of big business before the interests of people, their health and our environment.
TTIP isn’t about reducing trade tariffs; it’s about removing regulations which are barriers to corporate interests ie: private profit. It’s about increasing privatisation and making it impossible to return privatised services to state ownership and transferring sovereignty i.e. giving power to unaccountable officials.
TTIP won’t just affect the financial sector. Food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, pesticides, cosmetics and textiles will be affected. Regulations are in place to protect people from unscrupulous businesses. They force corporations to abide by standards that protect our health, our rights, our jobs, services and the environment.
TTIP would undermine current minimum standards agreed by the EU. There are also huge labour and environmental concerns with estimates of 600,000 job losses in the EU and 300,000 job losses in the US as a result of TTIP.
In 1994 a similiar agreement called NAFTA- The North American Free Trade Agreement- was put in place between the USA, Canada and Mexico. It promised extra jobs but in fact cost over one million US jobs and significantly reduced the value of wages for millions more workers.
Health services, education, postal services and sewerage services are all included in the TTIP negotiations and would be open to privatisation. This would potentially leave public services open to private tender.
TTIP includes Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions which mean that private investors will be able to bypass national courts and sue states in private arbitration courts for any actions that could damage their profit expectations and demand compensation.
A referendum in the State of Quebec resulted in a moratorium on fracking; the people democratically chose to protect their environment. The state is being sued by Gas and Oil company Lone Pine for $250 million dollars in lost profits.
In 2012 Veolia sued the Egyptian Goverment as a result of an increased national minimum wage.The minimum wage in Egypt was, and is, below €0.75 an hour! If a private corporation are able to sue governments when they make changes that could potentially affect their profits, that is a brutal attack on democracy.
97% of the public response to EC consultation called for ISDS to be taken out of TTIP but the US government wants it in. Similarly the EU is dominated by lobby groups for corporate interests further demonstrating the need for a left wing exit from that neo-liberal club.
TTIP and CETA negoiations have been carried out behind closed doors, secret even from MEPs. During negotiations 90% of lobbying groups were corporates, and only 9% social groups. Despite this some of the documents have been leaked.
The Director of Greenpeace EU said:
“These leaked documents give us an unparalleled look at the scope of US demands to lower or circumvent EU protections for environment and public health as part of TTIP. The EU position is very bad, and the US position is terrible. The prospect of a TTIP compromising within that range is an awful one. The way is being cleared for a race to the bottom in environmental, consumer protection and public health standards.”
Can we beat TTIP?
Over a million people in Europe have signed a petition against TTIP and hundreds of councils across Europe have already said they don’t want TTIP; Clare has declared itself a TTIP free zone. People power across the EU (and the US) is sending the message that we won’t stand aside and let our democracy and rights be sold off.
Any policies national governments try to enforce in the name of TTIP can be opposed locally by mass movements of people power- just like with the water movement. But we also need to build a movement for an alternative to a society dominated by corporations and secretive deals.