The upcoming election gives us a chance to choose the direction we want our society to go in and the government we think will best get us there. But a new trade deal, TTIP, threatens to undermine this democratic process by giving foreign corporations more power than our own government, and by putting our hard won labour rights and food standards in jeopardy.
What is TTIP?
TTIP stands for Trans-atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It’s a trade deal between the EU and the US. On the surface it looks fairly innocent – aiming to make trade easier between the two regions – but underneath lie a range of worrying clauses that would undermine our democratic rights. Our political representatives are negotiating this deal on our behalf but at the moment it only serves the needs of corporations and not of ordinary people.
Find out the different political parties’ positions on TTIP at the ATTAC website here
Companies Can Sue Countries!
Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a private court held outside of the normal judicial system for foreign companies to sue the government if they feel new government policy will affect their profits. This could be anything from an increase in the minimum wage to environmental protection. However this only applies to corporations – governments would not be able to sue corporations.
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in 2011 the German government decided to withdraw from nuclear power to reduce safety hazards. Vattenfall nuclear company who had been working in Germany sued the German government for 3.7 billion as this decision would affect their profits.
Groups including health organisations, food critics and NGOs are concerned that the quality and standard of food would be negatively affected by TTIP as food standards in the EU are much higher than US standards. TTIP also threatens to completely change the way small and medium sized farms operate, through the use of more genetic engineering and more hormone-treated meat.
False Promises On Jobs!
Proponents of TTIP claim that this trade deal will bring jobs and growth. Research shows that the best case scenario would only be 0.05% growth per year. Even though trade between the EU and US would be expected to increase, some of this increase will merely be a shift from bilateral trade between European member states, which will bring minimal net gains, and could even negatively affect some individual European economies.
The cost to hard-fought labour rights in Europe could be substantial, and would likely result in decreased job security, wage reductions and a loss of jobs. In general, TTIP would lead to greater labour market instability and the accumulation of trade imbalances at a national or even regional level.
In 2012, French company Veolia, sued the Egyptian government for attempting to raise the minimum wage. The government backed down and did not increase the minimum wage.
Increases In CO2 Emissions!
The world has recently made huge progress at the UN Climate Change talks in Paris in agreeing a plan to reduce our global emissions to curtail climate change. TTIP threatens this progress as the most ambitious TTIP scenario predicts an increase of 11.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
In the EU the precautionary principle is used. This means if a product has a suspected risk of causing harm to the environment or the public then it is the responsibility of those who are taking action to prove that it is not harmful. There are concerns that this principle would be exempt from the TTIP deal, jeopardising the standards and quality of products in Europe in favour of big corporations.
Not consumers, not workers, not farmers. The only people that win through TTIP are corporations.
Many organisations representing diverse groups within society (e.g. farmers, health organisations, trade unions) are against TTIP because of the negative impacts they can see for people’s health, democratic rights and environmental protection.
They are joined by almost 3.5 million people across Europe who have signed a petition to stop the TTIP trade deal going through.
It’s Not Just Us?
If passed, TTIP could become the new model for future trade agreements worldwide, meaning its negative effects could be even worse for countries in the Global South.