TTIP (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a trade deal between the US and the EU, being carried out right now, in secret, ostensibly to co-ordinate and standardise legislation and to provide clarity, stability and confidence for companies that would like to invest in other countries, and to stimulate growth. However, here are ten reasons you should be worried…..
- the deal will damage democracy, as unelected businesses will be allowed to sue elected governments for doing anything that can be claimed to have reduced their profits (more below). This part of the deal is called the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Philip Morris is currently suing the Australian and Uruguayan government for bringing in plain packaging for cigarettes.
- these cases will be brought before a completely new and separate court system (the corporate sector considered that existing national justice systems could be biased in favour of protecting democratic national legislation against undemocratic corporate assault), and they will be heard by international courts, before a panel of corporate lawyers and (you’ve guessed it) in secret, with no right of appeal.
- it will standardise legislation so that, for example, EU countries would no longer be able to prevent entry to foods from the US that have been grown using genetic modification, growth hormones or pesticides that are banned and considered dangerous or carcinogenic in the EU.
- much lower US animal welfare standards will become the norm in the EU, as the bar is lowered to enable ‘free and fair’ trade – so already bad factory-farm conditions for animals would become much worse.
- over 90% of advisors consulted by the negotiators have been corporate lobbyists.
- the world is already controlled by a rapacious and ruthless corporate sector; TTIP will give them more power, when we should be moving in the opposite direction – syphoning power away from them towards independent, community-owned and co-operative businesses and the self-employed.
- growth is the last thing the people of the US and the EU need. These areas of the world already control the lion’s share of global resources, and the world has already passed the point where we actually need more than one earth to provide us with the resources and waste absorption facilities that our economy requires. Obviously we don’t actually have more than one earth, so we’ll have to damage this one until we fall below a ‘one-planet’ footprint again (which we can do ourselves, or nature will impose on us – either way, it’s inevitable).
- the deal is ostensibly to promote free trade – but in fact it will bring more and more global trade under the control of corporate monopolies. It’s not a species of free trade that Adam Smith would recognise.
- it has been confirmed by the UK government and the European Commission that the deal includes NHS services.
- negotiations are taking place in secret, by people who have not been elected by anyone, and there is a 30-year ban on releasing documentation of the negotiations into the public sphere.
Here’s a great little film made by a concerned member of the public.
And here’s another one with more details on TTIP and it’s evil twin TTP (The Trans-Pacific Partnership – a deal covering Pacific rim countries), featuring some more recognisable faces.
The TUC have come out against TTIP; more on their position here. They are particularly concerned with the ISDS.
The most surprising and outrageous part of the deal is that corporations and investors will be able to sue governments for any actions that can be shown to have reduced their profits in any way at all, for example:
- by reversing any past privatisations – for example in the NHS
- by introducing anti-smoking legislation – for example plain packaging
- by phasing out nuclear power
- by introducing environmental legislation
- by labelling GM food, so that consumers can choose whether to buy it or not
- even by introducing a minimum wage
All these things could easily be shown to reduce corporate profits, and it doesn’t matter that a majority of the country want it, their elected government can still be sued for doing it. That would severely limit what governments would be able to do, and so even if parties or politicians promised that they would do something about corporate power, their hands would be tied, and we’d be treated to a succession of tame, totally corporate-friendly governments that could do absolutely nothing to challenge the power of the corporate empire (they can do precious little as it is). It would be a step closer to the corporate sector writing all of our laws.
To summarise, TTIP would take away more of the tiny influence that voters have in this world, and give it to the corporate sector. It’s a disaster for democracy, but the mainstream, corporate-owned media will present it as a reasonable, run-of-the-mill trade deal. It is nothing of the sort – it’s a power grab by the corporate sector.
BUT – some people understood what was happening, and have worked hard to shine the spotlight on what corporations are doing via TTIP. People like these:
They are committed, tireless and really, really deserve your help. If you care about this, here are some things you can do about it.
- learn more – look at the websites above for lots of sources of information
- attend events, meet people, make contacts, join in
- join the 2.5 million people who have signed 38 Degrees’ petition to the EU
- sign this petition to the UK government; currently signed by over 15,000 people, it requires 100,000 to be considered for debate in parliament
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's