This short introduction gives you the main arguments why TTIP and CETA are a threat to so many things we value and need – in less than five minutes. So let’s begin:
The EU soon intends to sign two far-reaching trade agreements: One with Canada (CETA = Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and one with the USA (TTIP = Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The official line is that these will create jobs and increase economic growth. However, rather than citizens, it’s much more likely that only big corporations will benefit from them. Here are the main reasons why:
- Investors will be able to sue states. The so-called Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) – even in it’s new disguise as the EU’s “Investment Court System” (ICS) model – will grant foreign investors (i.e. Canadian and US companies) the right to sue European states if they believe that laws or measures of the EU or any member state have damaged their investments and reduced their expected profit. This will also affect laws and measures enacted in the interest of the common good, such as environmental and consumer protection.
- Corporations will be invited to co-write new laws. The so-called “regulatory cooperation” will allow representatives of big business and bureaucrats from both sides of the Atlantic to influence draft laws in expert groups even before these are discussed in elected parliaments. This undermines democracy!
- Big business has excessive influence on the secret negotiations for CETA and TTIP. In 92% of all stakeholder meetings the EU Commission held in the preparatory phase for TTIP, only representatives of companies were heard. Only in very few cases consumer and trade union representatives were invited to share their views. Corporate influence persists during the negotiations: Even some wordings in draft texts leaked to the public originate directly from corporate lobbyists.
- The negotiations are conducted in secret. Our public representatives know little about their progress, and the general public is not allowed to see any of the official agreement’s texts until the negotiations are finished. Parliamentarians are only allowed to read these long legal texts (the CETA agreement, for example, has about 1,500 pages) in especially designated reading rooms without expert help, and are not allowed to tell the public what they have read. Once the negotiations are finished, they can only accept or reject the agreements, without being able to ask for changes.
- Food quality standards and consumer protection could be weakened. Through the alignment of regulations, for which TTIP aims, European standards are endangered, as the US standards are often substantially weaker. Also, the US side wants the EU to accept its approach to risk assessment, which would allow every product to be sold until the state was able to prove it to be harmful. So far, in Europe companies must prove the harmlessness of their products before bringing them on the market.
- Workers’ rights and jobs are endangered. The USA still refuse to recognise basic rights for employees (it has only ratified two out of the eight ILO core labour standards), and the “race to the bottom” triggered by TTIP could become a danger for employee rights in the EU as well. Also, tougher competition from abroad could lead to massive job losses. A study published by Tufts University (USA) found that 600,000 jobs could be lost due to TTIP.
- European countries would be falling under pressure to allow high-risk technologies such as fracking or GM technology. As part of TTIP and/or CETA, companies could be allowed to take governments to arbitrators if they regulate or ban high-risk technologies. In 2013, the oil and gas company Lone Pine filed a $250-million ISDS lawsuit against Canada, after the state of Quebec issued a moratorium on fracking. TTIP and CETA will pave the way for an ever increasing number of such lawsuits.
- CETA and TTIP will further increase inequalities. Those already well off will profit most from CETA and TTIP. Big business will gain even more advantages over small and medium enterprises and citizens. The EU’s economic crisis is likely to deepen further, as the most competitive member states are expected to pocket most of the potential GDP increase. Countries on the EU’s periphery, that are already highly dependent on foreign capital, risk losing out on quality jobs and sustainable investment. On a global scale, inequality between developed and developing countries will increase further, with studies forecasting dramatic GDP drops and job losses in third countries.
- Liberalisation and privatisation will become one-way streets. CETA and TTIP will make it more difficult – and probably even impossible – to return public utilities, hospitals, or waste collection to the public sector once they have been privatised.
CETA and TTIP want to increase the power of multinationals at the expense of democracy and the general good. We must not allow this to happen! Please support our European Initiative!
Together we can stop TTIP and CETA!