Dangerous Trade Deals Threatening Democracy and Rights
UNISON have produced a useful document on international trade deals. The European Union is currently negotiating three major trade agreements that could have a profound impact on public services, regulation in the public interest and employment and labour rights. Many people will have heard about TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the USA but the EU is also negotiating an agreement with Canada, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and a wider agreement with 23 other countries, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Historically trade agreements sought to reduce tariff barriers to trade (taxes on imports). TTIP, CETA and TiSA are different: all three agreements are seeking to liberalise the trade in services, including public services; TTIP and CETA are also treaties seeking to protect the rights of foreign investors; finally TTIP aims to reduce ‘regulatory barriers’ to trade, forcing through a deregulatory agenda.
The EU lack of democracy has been question following recent events. Attention must not be deflected from the secret treaties being hatched between Europe and the US.
These treaties read like a corporate wish-list: secret courts that can sue our governments, the removal of environmental and health regulation and the degradation of working standards.
Who is set to benefit from this? Hasn’t Big Business had enough their own way?
Now Revealed: The scary truth about who is writing the terms of TTIP. With TTIP talks happening right now, it’s never been more important to spread the word about big business’ involvement in the deal. TTIP is a corporate lobbying paradise as the graphics show. More details on this link.
When preparing the mandate for the negotiations on TTIP, and in the first important months of the talks themselves (January 2012 to February 2014), the European Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) had 597 behind-closed-door meetings with lobbyists to discuss the negotiations.
For every meeting with a trade union or an environmental organisation, Malmström and her staff had 5 get together with companies and their lobby groups. (Check the full data and how we gathered it here). The lobby groups with the most such high level meetings on TTIP were the Transatlantic Business Council (representing over 70 EU and US-based multinationals), pharmaceutical lobby group EFPIA (lobbying for pharma giants like Eli Lily, Pfizer, Novartis, and GSK) and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
These are the corporate lobby groups which had by far the most lobby encounters with DG Trade in the preparatory and early phase of the TTIP negotiations (January 2012 to February 2014): BusinessEurope, the European employers’ federation and one of the most powerful lobby groups in the EU.
- Transatlantic Business Council, a corporate lobby group representing over 70 EU and US-based multinationals.
- ACEA, the European car lobby (working for BMW, Ford, Renault, and others) which had as many lobby encounters with DG Trade as CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council (lobbying for BASF, Bayer, Dow, and the like).
- European Services Forum, a lobby outfit banding together large services companies and federations such as Deutsche Bank, Telefónica, and TheCityUK, with the same amount as lobby encounters as EFPIA, Europe’s largest pharmaceutical industry association (representing some of the biggest and most powerful pharma companies in the world such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Novartis, Sanofi, and Roche).
- FoodDrinkEurope, the biggest EU food industry lobby group (representing multinationals like Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Unilever).
- US Chamber of Commerce, the wealthiest of all US corporate lobbies, and DigitalEurope (whose members include all the big IT names, like Apple, Blackberry, IBM, and Microsoft), both with the same amount of lobby encounters with DG Trade.
Check the full list of lobby groups and how we gathered the data here.
On top of that, TTIP’s investment protection chapter would empower thousands of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic to legally attack decisions made by national parliaments, governments, and even courts if they undermine corporate profits.
- The preparatory and early phases of the TTIP negotiations were largely driven by businesses with headquarters in the US, Germany, and the UK and by industry lobby groups organised at the EU level such as BusinessEurope
- One in every 5 corporate lobby groups which have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP (80 out of 372 corporate actors), are not registered in the EU’s Transparency Register, amongst them large companies such as Maersk, AON, and Levi’s. Industry associations such as the world’s largest biotechnology lobby BIO, US pharmaceutical lobby group PhrMA, and the American Chemical Council are also lobbying under the radar. More than one third of all US companies and industry associations which have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP (37 out of 91) are not in the EU register. (see the full data and how we gathered it here)
- There are two serious flaws of the EU’s Transparency Register: first, it is voluntary, which leaves companies and lobby groups free to avoid appearing in it – as many do. Second, disclosure requirements are limited as registrants are, for example, not obliged to report exactly which specific issues they lobby on (such as TTIP).
It is very clear why these treaties must be stopped.
A UN official has spoken out about the secretive TTIP deal, warning of “a dystopian future in which corporations call the shots instead of democracies”, and highlighting significant fears about human rights abuses should the deal go through.
We don’t have much time left before the talks finish for this stage of TTIP. And we urgently need to ramp up the pressure: US politicians just voted in favour of making it much easier for Obama to sign them up to big trade deals like TTIP. The ordinary people of the EU and the US are increasingly the last line of defence against the trade deal.
A whopping 2.3 million of us have already signed up to oppose the devastating TTIP deal — will you add your voice and tell the European Commission to stand up for democracy? Coalition website for the ECI Stop TTIP
Please share! And you can sign the self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative here: http://bit.ly/1w7tdLp
(Addendum: The US are also negotiating the TransPacific Partnership or TPP with Pacific-rim countries. The TPP and TTIP, together form a single market which would essentially include ‘everyone but China’ and encompass about 69% of all global trade. Many including the economist, James Galbraith, contend that these Western trade agreements are not about trade at all, but more like an attempt to take-over and control the foreign country’s economy on behalf of the transnational corporations. Is this the start of a new cold war with financial weapons of mass destruction? Are these trade deals the instruments by which the US intends to enforce its global hegemony against the threat of increasing Chinese power?)
- Sum of Us – Stop TIPA is a self-organised European Citizens Iniative against TTIP and CETA
- Independent What is TTIP?
- TTIP A Corporate Lobbying Paradise : All The graphics, info, links and research
- UNISON: pdf link TTIP, CETA and TISA European Trade Agreements
- Implications of TTIP for financial control of the Banks
- Red Labour must address the Elephant in the room
- Sum of Us http://action.sumofus.org/a/stop-ttip-eci/
- Jeremy Corbyn Speaks against TTIP at Durham Miners Gala
- On TTIP and NHS, they are trying to bamboozle us
- Welfare Reform and US Insurance Giant Unum
- TTIP Recipe For Ruin
- Nineteen Eighty Four revisited – Is there a ‘world domination’ study course?