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Secret EU-US Trade Deal

May 15th, 2014 by

Right now, officials in the US and EU are secretly negotiating a hugely influential and dangerous trade deal which would put the profits of big business ahead of our welfare, health and environment.

It’s called the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, or “TTIP” for short, but in reality it’s more like a Christmas-list for big business. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy, but leaked details suggest the deal will:

- Allow companies to sue governments if they make decisions which negatively affect big business’ potential profits (like capping energy prices, or introducing plain packet cigarettes.)

- Stop future governments from rolling back privatisation of our public services, such as the NHS, energy companies, or the Post Office.

- Relax the rules which protect consumers, our environment, our welfare and health services, to much weaker US levels.

38 Degrees members have a strong track record of standing up to big business and government. If we decide to, we have a chance to stop this agreement in its tracks – derailing the negotiations and making sure the things we care most about are protected.

Should we launch a campaign to stop the irreversible damage which the deal threatens?

Click HERE if you think we should campaign against TTIP
Click HERE if you think we shouldn’t.

Increased trade would create some jobs, and could boost the UK economy – but critics have been scathing of the cost and size of these benefits. However, with the economy a key election issue for both David Cameron and Barack Obama, they’ve decided to stake their reputations on the deal.

It’s not going to be an easy campaign to win -  but it is possible. Especially as we’d be joining lots of people and campaigners across the world who’ve already sprung into action.

Should we join the fight? The 38 Degrees staff team sit down every Monday morning to plan out the week ahead and decide on how we use staff resources. The most important factor when making those decisions is what 38 Degrees members think.

 

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  • petercrosskey

    We have been covering TTIP extensively on the ARC2020 website (I’m the UK web correspondent) [http://www.arc2020.eu/front/tag/TTIP/]. We would urge people to ask questions like “Why is this being negotiated in total secrecy?” or “Why should companies be allowed to claim damages against sovereign states without going through a national court of law?” Yesterday 240 peaceful protesters, including MEPs, were arrested in the vicinity of a TTIP conference in Brussels, while business leaders discussed topics like “How to maintain public trust” [http://www.euractiv.com/sections/european-business-summit-2014/hundreds-protesters-arrested-brussels-business-leaders-debate]

  • P.M

    petercrosskey, I totally agree. I think a ‘pre-campaign’ petition to have all the details released should be run. I appreciate that timescales are likely tight however, due to the minimal details available, it would prove beneficial to all parties to have full details of the deal released so that an informed decision can be made. There may only be one or two ‘bad’ points and this shouldn’t stop negotiations completely but. likewise, the deal should not be allowed to go ahead because of only one or two good points.

  • David M

    I have been researching this deal for some time and the threats it poses to democracy, progressive politics and public services completely outweigh the dubious benefits it will bring. As Nick Dearden,
    Director of World Development Movement notes:

    ‘all investment treaties are sold on the basis of growth and jobs.
    Look at that most infamous of trade agreements NAFTA (the North American
    Free Trade Area, between Mexico, Canada and the US). Workers were
    promised 20 million new jobs. The US actually experienced a net loss of 1
    million jobs.’

    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/03/labour-mustnt-fall-for-the-jobs-fallacy-ttip-is-a-threat-to-democracy/

    Further research on how the benefits of the TTIP have been exaggerated can be found here:
    http://blog.policy.manchester.ac.uk/posts/2013/12/the-false-promise-of-eu-us-trade-talks/

  • David M

    The weakness of campaigning for a few key areas to be exempted is that once the TTIP is in place, the power dynamic between national governments and multinational corporations will be permanently altered. Private healthcare corporations are not going to stop lobbying for the NHS to be marketized and sold off. How long would such an exemption last? The best option is to campaign for the whole framework to be scrapped. This offers a clear message to activists and prevents false victories through the sort of ‘listening exercises’ we saw with the Health and Social Care Bill, cosmetic changes but fundamentally the same ethos underpinning its drive for privatization.

  • David M

    This is an excellent summary of what is at stake with the TTIP:

    ‘Speaking for the Green Party of the US, former Democratic Party congresswoman Cynthia McKinney said: “First and foremost, the TTIP is focussed on profit generation for the benefit of owners and shareholders of large multinational corporations. It will do this through lowering labour costs and removing tariffs. This won’t be to the general benefit of citizens.

    “The TTIP will bring substantial reductions in tax revenues at a significant cost to the public good, greater job insecurity and a ‘race to the bottom’ in labour standards, safety, environmental regulation and consumer protection.”’

    http://thetarge.co.uk/article/current-affairs/0283/green-parties-slam-us-trade-deal

  • CB

    This link sums it all up:
    http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta

    This comprehensive article spells out in graphic terms why TTIP is such a big deal and why the consequences — should they come to pass — are so dire. Calm and understated, it’s import is heightened by the fact it’s from an entirely reputable source and is fully referenced. Read it. Print it out. Pass it on.

  • Dr B

    European Election coming up on Thursday. You can vote for a party that opposes TTIP: there are parties that oppose it standing in every region. BUT Tories, LibDems, Labour and UKIP all support it, so if opposing it is important to you, you need to be careful to make your vote count!

  • Silvia Vousden

    Vote Green if you want to vote in a party that will oppose this proposal. National Health Action Party is also a good alternative vote.

  • Tony Troughton-Smith

    There’s a potentially crucial issue that appears to have been overlooked in campaigning against the TTIP, which could see it implemented even when / if we think we’ve prevented it. This is that the TTIP is just one of two twin agreements, the other being the Trans-Pacific Partnership or “TPP”.

    As far as I can tell both agreements are practically identical, and the geographical scope suggested by their names is partly for convenience but also window-dressing to divide the opposition (i.e. us!) If just ONE the the two is enacted, by its nature it is soon bound to encompass ALL countries wishing to trade with any of the signatory states, thereby effectively replacing the other, unsuccessful, agreement. (If they both get through they will simply be merged at some future date.) So by fighting just one of the two we play into their proponents hands, whilst ours will be securely tied by our countries’ need to continue to do business internationally.

    The Big Boys have learnt from our opposition to their earlier attempts to secure global trade agreements such as the MAI. This is exactly the reason they have tried to ensure total secrecy this time, and developed their two-pronged strategy to divide our opposition. Groups fighting the TTIP and TPP simply MUST unite if we are to stand any hope of preventing the implementation of the measures both agreements plan to impose on us.

  • Derrick Smith

    Economy vs environment/law/society is a delicate balance, it shouldn’t be steamrolled. It should at least be the right of citizens to vote on this.
    I’ve just spotted Obama’s excuse when the BP oil line gets the go-ahead.

  • Anonymous

    I think attention needs to be drawn to it, the media seem to be ignoring it. Given the political atmosphere in the EU at the moment is so dire, there is a real need for the EU to be seen as working for ordinary people rather than strengthening the power of corporations to ignore and override democratic governments. As regrettable as it is, the rise of UKIP should not be a surprise given that this is the kind of thing our representatives are trying to push through.

    Even if we are likely to lose the campaign, there deserves to be some public scrutiny of this treaty and hopefully a campaign would help push it up the agenda.

  • Andrew Yeomans

    Glyn Moody has written 26 very informative blog articles on TTIP in the ComputerWorld blogs, see

    http://www.computerworlduk.com/search/run/?searchFor=ttip&searchSubmit=%C2%A0&showMe=Blogs
    Recommended reading for anyone concerned what is being negotiated behind closed doors.

  • Richard Hopkins

    I suggest that, as well as campaigning AGAINST particular provisions of, or the entirety of, TIPP –
    we campaign FOR the creation of separate provisions to protect our human democratic rights –
    to ensure that IF some legislation (regulation or policy) is enacted in order to protect or support Human Rights, then that legislation has immunity from attack under Free Trade arrangements.

    A draft of a petition for such a campaign is -

    To not join up to any international (trade) agreement unless there is established an over-arching “Declaration of Democratic Sovereign Rights” under which
    no international agreement is be employed in such a way as to undermine
    the right of a democratically empowered government to implement legislation, regulations or policies, which they have introduced to protect or support the human rights of any human beings, including all the human rights identified in:

    EU – The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

    UN – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the general assembly of the United Nations;
    USA – the unanimous Declaration of Independence of the thirteen United States of America.
    These human rights to be protected through a judicial structure of the integrity and standing of e.g. the European Court of Human Rights.
    ==========================
    Particular Rights which are likely to be attacked by TIPP and the like, and which would be protected, include-

    1. Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or her health, safety and dignity (EU article 31);
    2. Everyone has the right to …just and favourable conditions of work (UN article 23(1));
    3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity (UN article 23(3));
    4. [The right to] A high level of human health protection in all … policies and activities (EU article 35);
    5. [The right to] A high level of environmental protection and the improvement of the quality of the environment … in accordance with the principle of sustainable development (EU article 37);
    6. [The right to] Policies [that] shall ensure a high level of consumer protection (EU
    article 38);
    7. Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and
    communications (EU article 7);
    8. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
    Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis
    of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid
    down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been
    collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified. (EU article 8).
    9. It is the Right of the People to … institute new Government [provisions] … in
    such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and
    Happiness (USA);
    10. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (UN article 38);

    The advantages of this approach are
    * Surely, hardly any politician would explicitly speak against these principles.
    * What TIPP advocates would do is claim that such an initiative is unnecessary, claiming that there is no danger of trade treaties endangering the above rights – but there is undeniable evidence to the contrary.
    * It only strengthens existing principles of Human Rights rather than introducing anything new (Thus reference to “sustainable development” rather than something more radical)
    * There would be significan political kudos in someone bringing about both the supposed financialbenefits of TIPP and the protection of Human Rights and democratic sovereignty.
    * This would avoid the need to dive into complex debates about the details and consequences of TIPP provisions.
    * This would guard against future TIPP-like things

  • LiloAndStitch
  • Lorc

    So, are you going to launch a campaign against it? Come on 38 degrees!

  • Jan

    I like this a lot, please consider, 38degrees.

  • barbara

    absolutely a must for a campaign; as soon as possible, urgent…

  • lea

    Please, please start campaigning on TTIP/TTP urgently!!

  • PJ

    Yes, urgently! Please. I was interested to read on ‘ 38% members rate the parties’ that the Green Party are the only ones with an interest in fighting this insidious trade deal. Could we perhaps write on mass to Ed Milliband questioning Labours support for this deal. Perhaps they could be swung in their opinion if they realise that voters won’t support jobs at ANY COST. Please lets get started.

  • Mike

    It is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) protocol that will be the main problem. If multinational corporations can challenge government policies, why shouldn’t governments (or individuals or third sector organisations for that matter) be granted comparable rights to hold corporations accountable?

  • Geoff Naylor

    Action by 38Degrees is probably the last and only opportunity to stop an anti-people treaty that will seriously undermine democracy and give unrivalled powers to
    multi-national corporations for generations to come.

  • Trevor

    The Commission is conducting a “consultation” on the subject.

    you can find it here

    http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=ISDS

    fill it in and let them know what you think;

    Hint – never in history has any country entered into a trade deal with the world’s leading power and seen its population do well from it.

    The list of countries that have seen a tiny minority become extremely wealthy whilst the vast majority got the crappy end of the stick would fill several pages.

  • Trevor

    What this treaty effectively means is the end of democracy in any meaningful sense.

    Yes, you will be still be able to vote on banning fox-hunting, or gay marriage, or women wearing burquas or similar – all fascinating stuff if you like that sort of thing – but no government will be able to pass legislation that has any effect on trade, without getting sued for “loss of potential profits”.

    So that means the U.S. can sell you hormone stuffed chicken and beef, beef grown from areas where he water supply has been poisoned by fracking – see this on youtube for a real shocker,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phCibwj396I and part 2

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_uNx2fXlfE

    Health and safety for workers? forget it, Tax companies to any meaningful extent? No, sir. Minimum wage? In your dreams. Compulsory pension contributions from employers? You are joking. Anti-pollution laws? Have a guess.

    Incidentally, when you see the effects of fracking, and think that half the South of England is sitting on this sort of gas, just imagine what it will do to house prices in the Tory heartlands if you need a gas mask to sit in your garden, if you can set light to your tap water, and if mini-earthquakes are the order of the day.

    What was that in the Queen’s Speech a week or so ago about “removing restrictions on fracking”?

  • Trevor
  • Trevor

    http://trade.ec.europa.eu/consultations/index.cfm?consul_id=177

    no mention of citizens’ concerns

    consultation now closed!!!!!!!!!

  • Josie

    This TTIP deal is not the only one they are doing behind our backs, there is also the TPPA and TISA treaties all designed to take over everything with the same terrible results for us the people. We need to stop them dead in their tracks, so perhaps we should join with as many other groups as possible? War on Want are fighting these deals and they are holding an event about it on 12th July, see their website for details, also fighting them are the IUF and the Trade Justice Movement, http://www.iuf.org and tjm.org.uk. Perhaps 38 degrees office staff could check these groups out and see if we can all join forces?

  • http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership-undermines-democracy/ Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership undermines democracy | Dear Kitty. Some blog

    [...] Attac, sets out the problems with the deal in a really clear, informative way. More information here and [...]