The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a so-called ‘free trade’ deal currently being negotiated by the EU and US. This deal will give big business more power over our society, our environment, our public services, and our democracy.
Negotiations on TTIP between the EU and US began in July 2013 and are still ongoing. The sixth round of negotiations will start on 14 July 2014 in Brussels, just two days after our national day of action. The time is now to make our voice heard.
The major focus of TTIP is reducing ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’. In practice, this is likely to mean slashing rules and regulations introduced by democratic processes to reign in corporate power. The aim of this deal is to open up new markets for corporations. While proponents argue that this will mean more jobs and growth, there is little evidence for this. In reality, TTIP will mean more profits and power for wealthy corporations, with potentially disastrous consequences for the rest of us.
Although negotiators are trying to keep this deal as secret as possible, leaked texts and expert analysis show that TTIP will mean the following:
- Corporate courts: Through a mechanism known as the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS), TTIP would grant corporations the right to sue governments, if governments make decisions which reduce their profits. This would take place through an international arbitration process that completely bypasses countries’ existing legal systems. In the past, ISDS has been used by tobacco giant Philip Morris to challenge Australia’s decision to introduce blank cigarette packaging, and by US oil company Occidental Petroleum, who won over a billion pounds in a claim against Ecuador.
- Slashing regulation: Decades of neoliberalism have already eroded hard-won rules and regulations designed to protect the environment, workers’ rights, public services and consumer standards. TTIP would place the little regulation we have left under threat by ‘harmonising standards’ between countries. This would mean a race to the bottom in terms of pay and working conditions, environmental protection, food safety standards and financial regulation.
- Forcing new unfair trade rules on the poor: Although TTIP is being drawn up between the EU and the US, if TTIP is agreed, countries in the global south will come under huge pressure to apply TTIP standards to avoid losing trade from the EU and US. The business lobby are upfront about the fact that they aim to secure “global convergence toward EU-US standards which could then become de facto global standards” (see here). If agreed, TTIP would make it easier for western companies and governments to push deregulation and neoliberal economic policies on poorer countries, worsening poverty and inequality.
In sum, TTIP would lock in the privatisation of our public services, erode government protection for people and the environment and threaten a new round of unjust economic reforms forced on the poor. In the UK, this would mean locking in the privatisation of the NHS, an easier ride for fracking companies, an attack on workers’ rights and declining standards for food safety and consumer rights.
But this corporate power grab can be stopped.
Protests and pressure are mounting across Europe.