GUE/NGL MEPs, along with other progressive parliamentarians and social movements across Europe, are sounding the alarm on the reality of TTIP, one of the most dangerous trade deals in the history of Europe, affecting the lives of all citizens.
The trade agenda of the European Union has been guided for decades by big corporate powers how have imposed a logic of liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation which has led to the current crisis.
Today we are facing a new wave of Free Trade Agreements that would set up the frame to expand de inequality between the wealthiest and the workers and between countries: TTIP negotiated between the European Union and the US; CETA, negotiated between the EU and Canada; and TiSA in which 24 countries are involved.
What is TTIP?
Since June 2013, EU Commission officials and their US counterparts have been negotiating a free trade agreement between the EU and the US known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). With a mandate from the 28 EU member state governments, the aim is to establish the biggest free trade and investment area ever envisaged between the world’s two largest trading blocs by reducing trade tariffs, standardising rules, and removing so-called ‘regulatory barriers’.
GUE/NGL MEPs, along with other progressive parliamentarians and social movements across Europe, are sounding the alarm on the reality of TTIP, one of the most dangerous trade deals in the history of Europe, affecting the lives of all citizens. According to its advocates TTIP will result in economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic, but the reality behind the spin is somewhat different. Citizens can expect no actual economic gains but high social costs. The Commission’s own sustainability impact assessment estimates that one million jobs will need to be relocated. Other economists argue that such a large-scale relocation of jobs within the EU is impossible and will lead to high levels of unemployment and more strain on public budgets through associated welfare costs. TTIP will make it harder for states to regulate markets in the interest of citizens, workers’ rights will come under pressure and environmental, social and safety protections will be lowered as a result of regulatory cooperation. TTIP is also an affront to democracy – and not just in terms of the lack of transparency surrounding the negotiations. The deal would see a massive shift of power from elected representatives to technocrats and corporations if it came in to force as businesses would be able to contest regulations that impinge on their profit expectations outside of our constitutional judiciary systems and beyond democratic processes.
What is TiSA?
In 2012, a group of the most powerful countries in the world – the so-called ‘Really Good Friends’ [of Services] – started secret negotiations to complete the privatisation agenda of the big transnational corporations in the service sector.
Like other international trade agreements (TTIP, CETA, TPP), TiSA aims to turbo-charge global trade; this time in ‘services’, which includes education, public transportation, health care and insurance, energy provision, postal distribution, telecommunications, sanitation, construction services, air and maritime transport, e-commerce, accounting, engineering, consulting and financial services – around 74 percent of the euro area economy.
The TiSA negotiations largely follow the corporate agenda of using trade agreements to bind countries to an agenda of extreme liberalisation and deregulation in order to ensure greater corporate profits at the expense of workers, farmers, consumers and the environment.
TiSA is the direct result of systematic advocacy by transnational corporations in banking, energy, insurance, telecommunications, transportation, water, construction and other services sectors, working through lobby groups. It’s the gift that the political elites promised to the corporate powers since the failed WTO “Millennium Round”.
Protect regulatory achievements, No to mutual recognition of standards!
TTIP is de-regulation through the back door as it will prioritise transnational corporations’ profit-making over workers’ rights, social standards, environmental protections, as well as regulations on GMOs, toxic chemicals, privacy and safety. While ‘mutual recognition of standards’ between the EU and the US might sound friendly, in reality regulations will be watered down to the lowest common denominator. And nowhere is this race to the bottom more worrying than the food industry; EU member states would need to recognise America’s significantly less stringent food production standards. Europe’s farm-to-fork labelling approach, intended to give customers control over what they eat, is non-existent in the US. While in Europe businesses must prove their products are safe before they are allowed on the market, in the US it is the authorities that must prove a product is unsafe in order to reject it.
Public services could also be under threat as TTIP seeks to open up service markets to make it easier for companies to invest. TTIP is therefore a direct threat to publicly-provided healthcare, education, theatres, water, energy, transport, and welfare services. European norms on personal data protection could be reduced to the low level of protection in United States. The US considers data as a tradable good. It is the very business model of some of their largest companies. TTIP would let private corporations breach citizens’ privacy by accessing and selling their personal data. Regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US would mean that the European Commission would have to get the green light from US officials before it put forward a legislative proposal, and vice versa. This gives business groups more chances to lobby and block any legislation that would negatively impact on trade and investment – before elected representatives even get the chance to have a say. Any future legislative proposal would have to go through a filter, with a mandatory impact assessment on how it would impact on trade and investment.
The GUE/NGL supports an alternative trade policy that:
• rejects the neoliberal economic and trade model which is less about
exchanging goods and more about eliminating social and environmental
protections in the name of pursuing corporate profit;
• includes fundamental and human rights criteria in EU trade
• protects essential services from trade liberalisation;
• respects the planet and communities, and does not bring us closer to
irreversible climate change; and
• puts social justice, democracy, sustainability and gender equality at the heart of any trade deal.