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Soapbox: Why TTIP is a dirty deal

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a major new deal being negotiated in secret between the EU and USA.
TTIP will cost at least 1 million jobs, undermine our most treasured public services, lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in food, environmental and labour standards and, for the first time, allow US companies to sue the UK government in special courts. TTIP will change our lives for ever.

TTIP is marketed as the answer to recession in Europe and the USA, with bogus promises of growth and jobs. Yet the official study commissioned at the start of the talks calculated that at least 1 million people will lose their jobs in the EU and USA as a direct result of TTIP. With unemployment already at record levels in much of Europe, these people will find it impossible to get new jobs.

TTIP is a deal that is designed by business, for business. It’s the world’s biggest corporations who governments secretly consulted about what they wanted TTIP to contain, and it’s the same corporations who lobby governments the hardest. The only way to stop this corporate takeover is to say #NoTTIP.

TTIP’s three pillars

Deregulation

TTIP is not a traditional trade agreement designed to reduce border tariffs on exports. With tariffs between the EU and US already at minimal levels, the real aim of TTIP is to remove regulations that act as ‘barriers’ to corporate profits. Yet these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations such as labour rights, regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even banking safeguards brought in to prevent another financial crisis. Here are some more examples:

Food safety rules: In the USA, cattle are fed with growth hormones and meat is washed in chlorine to kill off germs – both processes that are forbidden in the EU. Pesticides and GM seeds outlawed in Europe are widely used on US farms. But under TTIP these products will be allowed in to Europe, endangering lives and undermining European farmers who spend more to meet our stronger standards. The European Commission has already changed rules to allow in acid-washed beef, and is quietly shelving rules to ban ‘gender-bending’ chemicals called endocrine disruptors. All this was done to sweeten the TTIP deal for big business.

Climate change – dirty fossil fuels: It is officially acknowledged that TTIP will push up our greenhouse gas emissions, but TTIP’s threat to our climate and environment goes far beyond these predictions. The EU established a ‘Fuel Quality Directive’ in 2009 to ensure we can meet our climate change obligations. The Directive prevents the controversial tar sands oil from entering the EU because it has been found to produce 23% higher greenhouse gas emissions than other fossil fuels. The US government has done its best to undermine this Directive. Under TTIP, tar sands oil will flood into the EU, locking us in to a high carbon future for decades – it will mean devastation for the planet.

Cosmetics – animal testing: The EU has a list of 1,377 chemicals banned from use in cosmetics. In the USA, only 11 chemicals are banned from use in cosmetics, and lead is still used in lipstick. The huge differences in standards that produce such different outcomes are also present in animal testing. As a result of years of campaigning, no cosmetic products tested on animals are allowed in the EU, but in the USA there is no similar requirement. Under TTIP, all this hard work will be undone and chemical-laden cosmetics tested on animals will be on sale in Europe.

Privatisation

TTIP will boost corporate profits by opening up public services and government contracts to the private sector and ‘locking in’ privatisations that have already happened. Companies such as Virgin are already running frontline health care services as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Health services are included in TTIP, and NHS privatisation will be irreversible if the deal goes through. The same holds true for education, post, water and environmental services, as well as for any hope of renationalising the railways.

When government ministers tell you not to worry because the NHS and other public services will not be touched, don’t believe them. Under TTIP, privatisation is for ever.

Corporate courts

TTIP will give US companies a new power to sue any government in corporate courts for loss of profits. This ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ mechanism (ISDS) threatens to undermine the most basic principles of democracy, as previous cases from other treaties show:

US tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing the Australian government for billions of dollars for demanding all cigarettes be sold in plain packaging – even after Australia’s highest court ruled that the constitution gave it the right to do so.

Argentina was ordered to pay $405 million after being sued by companies including Suez and Anglian Water for fixing the price of water during a financial crisis. Argentina argued it was upholding the human right to water, but the ISDS tribunal favoured the rights of the investor.

Swedish company Vattenfall is suing the German government for €5 billion over its decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Veolia is suing the Egyptian government for loss of profits as a result of the country’s decision to raise the minimum wage.

US company Lone Pine is suing Canada for $250 million for introducing a temporary ban on fracking in Quebec.

TTIP is not just about the EU and USA. Negotiators say that TTIP will set the standard for all future trade and investment rules across the world. This means that TTIP will enshrine the rights of transnational corporations over and above the needs of people and the planet, forever. We cannot allow that to happen.

How to help

A host of organisations and groups have come together to fight against TTIP in one of the most vibrant movements we’ve seen for years. From trade unions to grassroots environmental activists, War on Want works with a range of allies in Europe and the USA who all have the same message: #NoTTIP

Across Europe, over 2.5 million individual people have now signed the European Citizen’s Initiative saying No to TTIP and to the parallel EU-Canada deal, CETA. This is the largest ever such initiative in European history, and we are pressing ahead to push it up to 3 million and beyond. We can only stop TTIP by coming together to demand the deal is scrapped. We must all take action against TTIP, and we must do it now. EU and US officials are hoping to finalise the deal in the next few months, so this is our chance to stop them.

Take action! Visit waronwant.org/say-no-ttip

Here you can sign the European Citizen’s Initiative, find out more about TTIP, sign up for updates to let you know what’s happening and join up with others fighting this anti-democratic trade deal. Together we can defeat TTIP and save democracy! 

Written by John Hilary, Executive Director of War On Want.

Free speech is a right that is worth preserving. Every month we give our SOAPBOX pages to others to tell us their view of the world. 

Comments (6)
6 Comments

Stop-TTip Dundee

about 3 years ago

Trade agreements are about removing or reducing trade tariffs between countries thus helping to increase trading by removing financial barriers. But, these tariffs are already minimal between the EU and USA. TTIP is about reducing regulatory barriers to trade. These regulatory barriers are some of the most important protections we have in Europe; for our Public Health, our environment, workers rights, digital privacy, bank regulation and more - every part of our everyday lives. TTIP is designed to “harmonise” unwanted restrictions across the Atlantic. They use words like regulatory “coherence” “convergence” and “alignment”; these soft, fluffy words designed to distract us from the real questions we should be asking – unwanted by whom and why? And for whose benefit? Corporations always.

zoey_shepz_2

about 3 years ago

Signed and shared!

gardenfairy_2

about 3 years ago

Signed petition. Human rights, animal rights, health, the environment, public services, must all come before profits for big companies!

Brenda James

about 3 years ago

Where to begin... I have preaching about the Diry American Ways for so long it seems pointless to try anymore. The UK is a place I am hoping to move to one day to get away from this horrendous US practices. I will donate, purchase, and help in any way possible to prevent EU and UK from becoming a land of lobbyists. People that are against these big businesses and secrecy rulings really need to unite and push for a better world. Soamy of us,myself included, feel helpless. We cannot give up. It is what these big businesses want and count on. We need to keep living responsible lives, raising responsible children and being embasadors of a healthy planet. Let's put a stop to this, or at least give it a really good try. Thank you for the posting.

nnicolebennett

about 3 years ago

Take it from an American - this is a DIRTY DEAL!!!! The EU has much high regulations and standards than the US - if this deal goes through the US will drag the EU down with it.

nnicolebennett

about 3 years ago

*higher
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