The Chief EU Negotiator representing the 28 E.U. States, Commissioner Karel De Gucht is heading the ninth round of secret negotiations which have commenced this month. 90% of the participants involved in the talks are lobbyists for multinational corporations, financial institutions, Business Europe and the American Chamber of Commerce.
It sounds all above board at a glance: good for jobs, growth, stability, boosting the economy and a making the world a better place in general, but a better place in general for who?
The Dept. of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation commissioned a TTIP impact assessment to be conducted by Copenhagen Economics.
The report claims TTIP will boost jobs in our export industries by 5,000 to 10,000 and produce a potential €525 additional income per home.
The report also boasted that it would most benefit manufacturing industry, particularly pharmaceuticals and electronics, the agri-food sector, private healthcare and the insurance industry.
But this is the spin. Serious concern has been raised in relation to a clause to be included called ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement), a key part of the trade deal which would allow firms to sue national governments if they feel local laws such as health and safety regulations, food standards, environmental protection laws and financial regulations interfere with their business.
Investor-State Dispute Settlements in trade agreements have proven to be disastrous around the world. Tobacco For example, the US tobacco giant
Phillip Morris is suing the Uruguayan government for €25 million dollars over cigarette plain package legislation, because Phillip Morris feels it will lose out on profits due to this law.
So what would happen when the Minister for Health’s plain cigarette pack legislation hampers the projected profits of a cigarette company?
Will the law be circumvented and the state brought to a court of arbitration and be sued via the ISDS for similar amounts?
Let’s look at other examples of ISDS type situations.
Germany made a decision to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and now the Swedish utility Vattenfall is suing Germany at the Washington based International Centre for Settlement of investor disputes. Vattenfall is seeking €4.7 billion in damages.
The Canadian government is being sued by the US company Lone Pine
Resources for $250 million via NAFTA’s similar investor dispute settlement clause because the Canadian government decided to have a moratorium on fracking.
Needless to say the taxpayer picks up the tab for compensation awarded by these “courts”.
Another risk of TTIP is labour rights. The French multinational Veolia sued the Egyptian government for raising the minimum wage after the Arab Spring.
Bear in mind Veolia run the Luas lines in Dublin.
Imagine TTIP negotiations are successfully concluded and agreement is reached. Then imagine the unions tried to get a pay rise for their members? Or the state decides NOT to privatise our bus and rail networks?
It would be very likely that the state could be sued for colossal amounts of money at the taxpayer’s expense because investors felt it wasn’t in the interest of trade or profit margins.
TTIP is a direct threat to democracy because governments will be shy to bring
forward new legislation in relation to labour laws or food safety that may land
them in hot water with multinational corporations. TTIP will result in an abdication of political decision making in the name of corporate interests.
TTIP – designed by corporations for corporations.