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Sat May 7, 2016, 10:33 AM

TTIP: We Were Right All Along


By Thomas Fazi. Originally published at Social Europe


Throughout the crisis – and ostensibly as a response to it – Europe has increased its focus on external competitiveness as a means to transform both the EU and eurozone into a huge German-style, export-led economic machine (as emphasised by the Global Europe strategy). Various experts and economists have pointed out that this is a fundamentally misguided strategy.

In recent years, however, the EU has negotiated numerous bilateral trade agreements. This has been topped by the announcement in early 2013 that the EU and the US had agreed to enter into negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement, the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The European Commission has always argued that the agreement is aimed at ‘helping people and businesses large and small, by opening up the US to EU firms; helping cut red tape that firms face when exporting; and setting new rules to make it easier and fairer to export, import and invest overseas’. Furthermore, it contends that the TTIP, will ‘kick-start’ the EU economy by ‘generating jobs and growth across the EU’ and ‘cutting prices when we shop and offering us more choice’.

These assertions have been strongly challenged by European (and American) civil society organisations, which have maintained that the proposed agreement is not primarily intended to reduce the few remaining tariffs between the world economy’s two biggest trading blocs, but that ‘its central objective is to dismantle and/or harmonise regulations in areas such as agriculture, food safety, product and technical standards, financial services, the protection of intellectual property rights, and government procurement’. Since the EU-US negotiations are notably taking place behind closed doors, though, civil society organisations have had little to back their claims in terms of hard evidence (though the European Commission agreed last year to publish a long list of documents, the most important TTIP documents remain secret), and have had to rely mostly on historical precedents (the well documented nefarious social, economic and environmental effects of previous trade agreements, such as NAFTA), leaked documents relating to the other major trade deal being negotiated by the US, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), signed on 4 February 2016, and, well, good sense. This has allowed politicians in the EU and US – who have paradoxically stated that the purpose of keeping a tight lid on the negotiations is precisely to prevent vested interests to apply pressures – to accuse critics of the TTIP of fear-mongering.

Until now, that is. On May 1, Greenpeace Netherlands released 243 pages of leaked secret TTIP negotiation texts, which offer an unprecedented glimpse into the far-reaching implications that the agreement would have for climate, environment and public health – and, crucially, prove that civil society organisations were right all along. According to Greenpeace, the documents raise four aspects of serious concern from an environmental and consumer protection perspective:

• Long-standing environmental protections appear to be dropped. None of the documents received by Greenpeace refer to the General Exceptions, a 70-year-old rule enshrined in the GATT agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that allows nations to regulate trade ‘to protect human, animal and plant life or health’ or for ‘the conservation of exhaustible natural resources’. The omission of this regulation suggests both sides are creating a regime that places profit ahead of human, animal and plant life and health.

• Climate protection will be harder under TTIP. There is no reference in the texts to the need to keep global temperature increase under 1.5 degrees, as stressed in the Paris climate agreement. Even worse, the scope for mitigation measures is limited by provisions of the chapters on ‘Regulatory cooperation’ or ‘Market access for industrial goods’. As an example, these proposals would rule out regulating the import of CO2-intensive fuels such as oil from tar sands.

• The end of the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle, enshrined in the EU Treaty, is not mentioned in the chapter on ‘Regulatory cooperation’, nor in any other of the obtained 12 chapters. On the other hand, the US demand for a ‘risk-based’ approach that aims to manage hazardous substances rather than avoid them, finds its way into various chapters. This approach undermines the ability of regulators to take preventive measures, for example regarding controversial substances like hormone disrupting chemicals.

• Opening the door for corporate takeover. While the proposals threaten environmental and consumer protection, big business gets what it wants. Opportunities to participate in decision-making are granted to corporations to intervene at the earliest stages of the decision-making process. While civil society has had little access to the negotiations, there are many instances where the papers show that industry has been granted a privileged voice in important decisions. The leaked documents indicate that the EU has not been open about the high degree of industry influence. The EU’s recent public report has only one minor mention of industry input, whereas the leaked documents repeatedly talk about the need for further consultations with industry and explicitly mention how industry input has been collected. Yet, Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Trade, had the nerve to respond to the leak by stating that ‘the EU industry does not have greater access to EU negotiating positions than other stakeholders. We take into account submissions by industry, but exactly the same applies to submissions by trade unions, consumer groups or health or environmental organisations – all of which are represented in the advisory group that regularly meets our negotiating team’ (my emphasis). This is the same person that stated, when asked how she could continue her persistent promotion of the TTIP in the face of such massive public opposition, replied: ‘I do not take my mandate from the European people’.


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http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/05/ttip-we-were-right-all-along.html





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Reply TTIP: We Were Right All Along (Original post)
marmar May 2016 OP
BillZBubb May 2016 #1
Lizzie Poppet May 2016 #2
marmar May 2016 #3
cali May 2016 #4
JEB May 2016 #5

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat May 7, 2016, 10:40 AM

1. The corporatization of the world marches on!

And both US political parties are in lock step with the process. You would expect the republicans to be all in, but the Democrats? What has happened to us?

All hail our corporate masters!

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Response to BillZBubb (Reply #1)

Sat May 7, 2016, 10:44 AM

2. And we just sit here and take it, ineffectively whingeing at best.

 

Our revolutionary forbears would be embarrassed and contemptuous.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat May 7, 2016, 12:14 PM

3. Afternoon kick.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat May 7, 2016, 12:16 PM

4. Yep.

 

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat May 7, 2016, 12:33 PM

5. K&R for exposure. nt

 

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