Pressenza reported already the problems for ordinary people that are being created by the TTIP (and the TPP). The European Citizens Initiative has been conducting a campaign to find alternatives and a better deal for people, in a way similar to Latin America setting up the ALBA as it rejected the “Free” Trade Agreement proposed by the ALCA.
The Stop the TTIP site explains:
“We are an alliance of nearly 300 European organisations running a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP and CETA. We believe that these two trade and investment agreements must be stopped because they pose a threat to democracy, the rule of law, the environment, health, public services as well as consumer and labour rights (see 3-minute info for details).
European Citizens’ Initiative
TTIP and CETA are prepared behind closed doors. For the EU, the European Commission is in charge of negotiations and finalisation of the treaties. How can we directly influence the European Commission? So far, the sole available legal instrument is the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which can be used to challenge the European Commission to deal with a subject and to make legislative changes. A successful ECI also forces a hearing in the EU Parliament. This legal instrument has existed since 1 April 2012.
In spring 2014, the German anti-TTIP alliance called “TTIPUnfairhandelbar” proposed to start an ECI on TTIP and CETA and began to discuss this strategy with European partners. A citizen’s committee consisting of seven individuals from different EU member states was formed and the ECI text was prepared. On 15 July 2014, we applied for registration of our ECI “Stop TTIP” with the European Commission. Over the summer, more than 200 organisations from all over Europe expressed their support for the campaign. We prepared an online signature gathering tool and paper signature sheets.
From ECI to sECI
Then something unexpected happened: the European Commission rejected the registration of our ECI! In an obvious attempt to silence us, they offered very brief and inconsistent legal explanations for the rejection (see press release). We reacted in two ways: firstly, we are appealing the Commission’s decision in the European Court of Justice. Secondly, we are carrying out our European Citizens’ Initiative without permission from Brussels. We call this a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative (sECI) because we largely follow the rules of an official ECI but we carry it out without official approval. We think that it is our democratic right as citizens of the EU to have a say on matters that affect us: both TTIP and CETA will have profound effects on our lives and our society.
What do we hope to achieve?
The European Commission was hoping to finish negotiations of TTIP in secret and conclude CETA without public scrutiny. We are spoiling their game. We are offering citizens the opportunity to speak out against TTIP and CETA. If more than a million of us say “No!”, we increase the pressure on decision makers in Brussels as well as in individual EU member states to stop TTIP and CETA. While gathering signatures, we talk to a lot of people that have never heard of the trade agreements or do not know what effects the agreements would have. Opinion polls have shown: the more someone knows about TTIP and CETA, the more likely they are to oppose the agreements.
Help us to gather support for our campaign!
An official ECI need to collect at least one million signatures within a year to be successful. Additionally, a minimum of supporters must be achieved in seven EU states, e.g. 72,000 signatures in Germany, 55,500 in France or 54,750 in the United Kingdom. For our self-organised ECI, we think we can achieve this goal and even surpass it. Help us grow this movement against TTIP and CETA. Sign the ECI now and help us spread the word!”