By Thomas Barlow
What is it?
- TTIP is the largest trade deal ever to be done on the history of the planet
- It is between the world’s two largest economies – the EU and the USA – making the largest trade zone in the world – like the EEC but even bigger
- It is about regulation and tariffs – basically making laws the same or similar in both areas
- This is the biggest change to happen to the UK since the formation of the EU – and means giving up far more rights and democratic control
- This is being decided in secret – even the politicians that are involved are only being given parts of the agreement to review
- Workers, charities and legal bodies are barely represented – 90% of all the lobbyists represent multinational corporations
- What we do know is mostly through illegal leaks – the process is obscure, bureaucratic and hidden
What Damage Will Be Done
- Corporations will be able to sue governments for future lost earnings, if for instance, environmental regulation stops a profitable enterprise, or minimum wage increases decrease profits.
- The courts of arbitration to make these decisions will be three corporate lawyers who will meet and decide in secret – this does not sound like an open and democratic process
What does this mean for us?
- NHS under threat – if opened up to US style competition laws and companies, the NHS may be broken up entirely, or at least sold off from within – cheap does not mean good, and profit has to come from somewhere – that means patients being seen as money rather than people
- The promises to freeze gas, water, transport, rent or other price controls may have to be scrapped
- Any minimum wage increases would have to be agreed by large corporations, essentially making it worthless – in fact minimum wages may eventually be removed as a barrier to profit
- Food regulation banning GM, hormone treated meat, chlorinated chicken, and cloned cattle in the EU may have to be lifted so we can import US food products
- Fracking may have to be legalised against national and local government objections
- There will probably be further banking deregulation, creating the conditions for a another crash
- Workers rights – including statutory holidays, collective bargaining and workers councils are under threat – none of these exist in the US and as such would be seen as unfair impediments to profit in the EU
- Environmental legislation is under threat – if corporations can sue for environmental protection, then either the tax payers will have to pay companies not topollute, or they will pollute and destroy with no checks
- Tax increases will have to agreed by corporations, so as not to destroy profit making. The power to set taxes is a national government’s key power.
- Previous trade agreements (like NAFTA) have lead to a loss of jobs and an increase in poverty for all nations concerned, rather than the prosperity promised
- Intellectual property will be more closely guarded. It will be harder to use the internet freely without threat of legal action, and small companies will lose patent rights
- It threatens to unleash greater commercial surveillance of citizens in the EU as it will create better mechanisms for the NSA and other US agencies to gain information about us along with all US companies
- It will further place the internet under the power of the most powerful corporations (like slowing down streaming and download speeds if you don’t pay a premium as is happening in the US).
14. Claims that it will boost the economy and jobs are “vastly overblown”. A report commissioned by the British government concludes that ISDS “is likely to have few or no benefits to the UK, while having meaningful economic and political costs.
15. “The most terrible power the state can wield is to take children away from their parents for ever” – this privatisation is occuring with G4S and Serco, if – or more likely when – they fail and commit hideous misdeeds it will be impossible to take this power back.
- Essentially this will lead to the worst aspects of the US system being forced upon us – something I’m sure we don’t want. And this is without consultation or the agreement of the people of the UK, or Europe.
- Even the supposed benefits of this – which are stated as fact – are actually best possible outcomes that will occur in 25 years from now. And the stated benefits are tiny.
- Essentially decisions will be fully taken out of the hands of politicians and put in the hands of business- there will need to be no facade that our ‘elected and controllable’ government will be able to set economic policy.
- This is a true attack on British democracy (such as it is) – far greater than the threat of EU bureaucracy – there should be a popular backlash against this.
How Do We Know These Things Will Happen?
- NAFTA is the free trade agreement which has seen destruction of workers rights, environmental destruction, increased poverty increased corporate rights and decreased democratic rights across North America – this trade deal is modelled on that
- Recently the government of Quebec decided to ban fracking – they are currently being sued for loss of earnings by Fracking companies for taking this action under this agreement
- Other countries under similar agreements, like Uruguay and Australia, are being sued for putting health warnings on cigarette packets by big tobacco companies. This kind of action can be seen with big oil, food production, water prices, rent controls, drug provision and other multinational corporate control across the world where such agreements are in place.
What We Can Do + What We Need To Demand – This Is An Opportunity
Right now we need to demand:
- They open the doors and make the negotiations public
- They kick out all the corporate lobbyists
- Take out any references to corporations being given the power to sue national governments before any deal is even to discussed
- Ultimately we need to demand the ending of TTIP – it represents the biggest corporate power grab in history, and must be stopped if there isany chance for democratic process to survive and thrive.
- Encourage your union branch, community group, party, or any other organisation you are part of to take an active stance on educating its members about and opposing TTIP
- See this as an opportunity. There was once an alter globalisation movement that linked groups from across the world, started in opposition to NAFTA. We need a global movement right now, and this can be the campaign that brings us together.