TTIP is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the US Department of Commerce and the European Commission.
TTIP is a free trade agreement that proposes to remove ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’.
The confirmed (from numerous leaked documents) concern is that because tariffs are at an all-time low, the undeclared non tariff barriers on the table include safety regulations, workers’ rights, environmental protection rules and food standards regulations. Multinationals view these as barriers to trade and profits and the actions of their lawyers clearly indicate that they want them removed.
This concern is exasperated by the fact that the negotiations have been held in the most secretive settings of all European Commission dealings to date. Our MEPs do not have convenient access to this particularly complicated and important text (as they would any other text).
As Jean Lambert UK MEP Green Group states in the What’s Wrong With TTIP report:
“In the US 600 corporate advisors have direct access to the negotiating texts of these deals, while the public, press and the vast majority of elected politicians are locked out”
The Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS)
The ISDS is to be included in TTIP and as its name indicates it is the set of rules by which any disagreements that may arise from foreign investments might get sorted out.
ISDS is a legal system, run entirely by corporate lawyers, (the independence of the ‘judges’ is not monitored) which allows corporations to sue governments if they think legislation will impede future profits. It is a system that has been implemented in other trade deals previously, it does not have equitable access to justice (meaning only corporations can sue governments, no other body, including our democratically elected governments can sue them) and we can see the injustices it brings:
• Tobacco giant Philip Morris has sued Australia for introducing plain packaging on cigarettes
• Philip Morris also sued Uruguay for simply printing a health warning on cigarette packets
• Waste and energy company Veolia sued Egypt for introducing a minimum wage
• Argentina was sued for freezing energy prices to protect consumers following the country’s financial collapse
Removing ISDS will not make TTIP an acceptable deal.
Food and Agricultural multinationals are spending more money than any other sector in lobbying for TTIP, US food giants want EU legislation removed on certain food safety rules – including the bans on chickens washed in chlorinated water and meat raised using certain growth hormones and additives.
If TTIP is agreed, health, education and water will each face being opened up to private companies. The chances of rolling back any privatisation of previously publicly owned entities will be seriously diminished. These new private markets will be locked into a legal framework in which our governments are the weaker entity thanks to ISDS.
De-Regulation – No Protection for workers. Weaker Safety Standards
Regulations on the financial sector introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crash are also in the sights of big business, as are restrictions which protect the welfare of farm animals or protection for consumers’ data online.
TTIP is less of a negotiation about trade and more of a full frontal attack on society by transnational corporations wishing to impose their will on people both sides of the Atlantic.
We can win
But we can beat TTIP. We did it before in 1996 when leading industrialised nations pushed for agreement on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. The campaign against TTIP is gaining huge support and great momentum. A year ago, very few people had heard of TTIP. Now, over a million people have signed petitions against the deal in the UK, and the French government has declared that any deal containing ISDS is unacceptable.
If we educate ourselves and those around us about the contents and the impacts of TTIP, if we continue to campaign in every quarter of society at every opportunity, we can beat TTIP.
Main body of text from Global Justice Now
Edited by Inka Stafrace