Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The End of the Nation State and Democracy - TTIP

TTIP - Beware what Lies beneathI don’t read newspapers any more and I don’t watch TV unless it’s football. I take the view that if it’s important someone will tell me, usually via my RSS feeds, Twitter or Facebook or in the pub. However, our Chair reads Tory newspapers and it appears that the establishment press are not reporting on TTIP as he was completely unaware of this when it was mentioned recently in the Fairlop Oak. It stands for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and it is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States and Canada, in SECRET. Except that it is not that secret as the Multi-National Corporate Lobbies are not only being allowed in but are integral partners in the shaping of the agreement and no doubt an agreement that will be in their interests.

The most recent development has been for the EU to rule out an attempt to make this process, and the agreement, democratic by including us, the citizens of the European Union. John Hilary, director of War on Want and member of the Stop TTIP campaign said:
"This is an outrageous decision by the European Commission. These trade deals are already facing unprecedented opposition for their secrecy and unaccountability, but now we are denied even the right to petition our own EU leaders. An unelected executive, facing growing vocal opposition, has put his hands over its ears. “
The big idea is to remove trade barriers, which in itself is not a bad thing, but it also seeks to remove regulations and red tape. You know, those things that protect us as consumers or workers like hygiene standards and Health & Safety plus those things that protect our environment, our living conditions, air quality and so forth. And here’s the biggy. It will allow Corporations (who are renowned for avoiding taxes) to sue governments (who don’t actually have any money themselves, it’s our tax£s) if they pass legislation that restricts a corporation's ability to make a profit or adversely affects their bottom line.

We already have an example of this with the Pacific Deal where the Asian arm of the cigarette company Philip Morris used the treaty to sue the Federal Australian government for introducing legislation to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products.

And as a portent of things to come Syngenta is currently petitioning the US government to increase the legal limit for its bee-killing pesticides, in one case by over 400 times. Back in April 2013 they threatened to sue individual European Union officials involved in publishing a report that found the pesticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees before the EU imposed a 2 year ban. They are now suing the EU.

Meanwhile, here in the United Kingdom (while it lasts) all four Tory Parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and UKIP) support TTIP. This is quite ironic for UKIP for while they are all for free trade, free market and less regulation, they actually support giving away our sovereignty to the Corporations while wanting to regain it from the EU. They [UKIP] frequently cite Agenda 21 as a “global government conspiracy” but are blind to the real threat as it fits in with their own flawed ideology. And the Labour Party is not much better. They say they will exempt the NHS from the deal (if elected), but we must ask why they are not doing so for the rest of our public services, not to mention the rights gained for workers and consumers that their predecessors fought so hard for.

Oh, The Green Party of England & Wales (and I think the completely Independent one in Scotland) are, as far as I can tell, the only UK political parties campaigning against TTIP. For an explanation just consider who funds political parties ….

Further Reading:

TTIP: the biggest threat to democracy you've never heard of (New Statesman)

The TTIP deal hands British sovereignty to multinationals (The Guardian)

Trade talks 'must include healthcare' (BBC)

How will the new EU team line up on GMOs, TTIP and energy? (The Ecologist)

London Greens say no to secret TTIP trade deal (London Greens)

The price of trade (Ruscombe Green)

13 comments:

  1. I have said many times before that our national governments have no real powers and we are effectively ruled by the big multinationals. TTIP will not change this in any fundamental way. Transfer of power to the unelected, unaccountable multinationals has gone too far to be stopped. My only question is: In what court will the cases being brought against national governments be heard?

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    Replies
    1. TTIP proposes to include the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) mechanism. Already in action in several countries under the existing NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), this allows corporations to directly sue governments for introducing legislation that reduces their profits.

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    2. That's interesting, I plainly don't read the right newspapers. Oh, I forgot - I don't read newspapers at all any more. Those that aren't glorified comics are mouthpieces for members of the establishment.

      So who appoints the people who man the ISDS?

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  2. David Babbs of the lobby group 38 Degrees was asked to explain to the Business Select Committee (I assume this is a Houses of Parliament Committee) why 38 Degrees members are so worried about TTIP.

    But once he got there it became pretty obvious that their real objective was solely to attack 38 Degrees members for wanting to have a say!

    They kept arguing that 38 Degrees members didn’t know enough to have valid opinions about the deal. And when it was suggested that people do not trust politicians to deal with something as important as this behind closed doors, the chairman told him to shut up!

    BBC radio put together a short report about what happened. It’s just three minutes long, and well worth a listen...

    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/ttip-committee

    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/content/ttip-dd-ask/

    Note that the webpage also asks for donations, however there is no charged to listen to the short radio report.

    Simon - aghast and horrified, and wondering whether he would be "disappeared" (or perhaps have a fatal "accident") if he contacts an MP about this!

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  3. Below is a message dated 16th January 2015 which came to me about TTIP from the campaigning group 38 degrees.

    I was one of the people who wrote to Mike Gapes MP on this issue.

    Simon

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Dear Simon,

    Good news: yesterday, MPs voted to say they want power over what’s in TTIP. [1] Tens of thousands of us got in touch with our MPs this week asking them to do just that - and we won!

    It was a symbolic vote, and only a handful of MPs turned up. But now that MPs have said they think they should have a say on what’s in TTIP, ordinary people could have more power over the final deal.

    Why? Because if a real vote happens, we can put pressure on our MPs to do the right thing. It’s an election year, so they’re worrying about what their voters think.

    So - a step in the right direction!

    And that isn’t the only good news on TTIP this week. On Tuesday, the EU Commission was forced to admit that 97% of people who responded to a TTIP consultation were against the bit of the deal that could let private companies sue our government. [2]

    38 Degrees members flooded that consultation in our tens of thousands - a third (!) of all responses across Europe came from Britain. [3]

    The EU has decided to ‘suspend’ negotiations on this controversial part of the deal. [4] Maybe they’re hoping this will make the fuss die down. They might try and put it back on the table when they think we’re not looking.

    But we know that we won’t stop until the interests of ordinary people are put above the interests of big business. We’re turning the tide. Let’s keep going.


    PS: TTIP - and 38 Degrees members! - made it on to the radio this week. If you’d like to listen, it starts at 35:00. Click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xg3kj


    NOTES
    [1] House of Commons Hansard: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150115/debtext/150115-0003.htm#15011570000001
    The Guardian: MPs debate TTIP: Politics Live blog:
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/jan/15/nick-clegg-hosts-his-call-clegg-phone-in-politics-live-blog
    [2] European Commission: Consultation on investment protection in EU-US trade talks:
    http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1234
    [3] The Independent: TTIP: Activists triumph as contentious US free trade deal clause suspended:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ttip-activists-triumph-as-contentious-us-free-trade-deal-clause-suspended-9976090.html
    [4] The Independent: TTIP: Activists triumph as contentious US free trade deal clause suspended:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ttip-activists-triumph-as-contentious-us-free-trade-deal-clause-suspended-9976090.html

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  4. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/22/eu-dropped-pesticide-laws-due-to-us-pressure-over-ttip-documents-reveal?CMP=share_btn_tw

    US trade officials pushed EU to shelve action on endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility to facilitate TTIP free trade deal

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  5. Some more campaigning...

    Simon

    ==========================================

    1) A tweet of mine sent 26th September 2015

    The secretive #TTIP & TPP trade deals will make it easier for large multinationals to get around local pollution regs

    https://twitter.com/citytransportin/status/647761515341303808

    2) http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/if-youre-worried-about-ttip-then-you-need-to-know-about-ceta-a6671886.html

    If you're worried about TTIP, then you need to know about CETA
    It will be the first trade deal of its kind to come before the British and European parliaments, and if it passes the consequences will be disastrous

    --------------------------------------

    CETA – or the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement – is a trade deal between Canada and Europe.

    It’s part of a new generation of deals, which includes the controversial TTIP. The thing is, it’s not really a trade deal at all. It's more of an investor’s charter, which gives big business and big finance huge new powers and rights.

    The one positive thing about CETA is that it’s no longer secret. It’s already been signed and that means that we’re allowed to see it. Its 1,500 pages of text show us that it's not only a threat to our food standards, but also our battle against climate change, and ability to regulate big banks. What's more, it could even threaten our our power to renationalise industries, such as the railways.

    read more at link above.

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  6. This very long link leads to a campaigning page against TTIP which is in Italian and English.

    http://paper.li/J599/1393074058?edition_id=be135960-6cf3-11e5-88df-0cc47a0d15fd#

    This link leads to a page about a petition against TTIP which was signed by 3 million people. The page also includes links to other pages which are of interest.

    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/trade-society/three-million-people-unite-derail-ttip-318282

    Simon

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  7. A "Very Good News" update.

    Simon

    ----------------------------------

    Breaking news: the government’s official report into TTIP found the deal has “lots of risks and no benefit” to the UK. [1] Politicians covered up the report for the last three years, but yesterday it was exposed for the first time. [2] Today, it’s up to us to share the shocking truth.

    This report is catastrophic for the government’s hopes of getting TTIP agreed before the end of the year. They’re relying on lots of people not knowing about the real impact of this deal. But that’s where we come in. There’s millions of us, and we know millions more. So if anyone can shine a light on this damning report, it’s us.

    Read more:

    https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/851

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  8. More information:

    The full conclusion of the government’s report into the risks and benefits of TTIP is shocking. One paragraph begins:

    “In sum, an EU-US investment chapter is likely to provide the UK with few or no benefits. On the other hand, with more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in US FDI stock, the UK exposes itself to a significant measure of costs.”

    NOTES:
    [1] The report was exposed by a Freedom of Information request from anti-TTIP campaigners Global Justice Now. The Department of Business and Skills commissioned the risk assessment report in 2013. The London School of Economics carried out the assessment on behalf of the government and found that TTIP would have limited political and economic benefits and may result in "meaningful economic costs in the UK".
    See the full report on the government’s website here:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/260380/bis-13-1284-costs-and-benefits-of-an-eu-usa-investment-protection-treaty.pdf

    [2] While the report was written in 2013, it was only reported in the press yesterday, thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Global Justice Now. Read more here:
    The Independent: TTIP: UK Government found trade deal had 'lots of risk and no benefit' in its only assessment
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ttip-uk-government-only-did-one-assessment-of-trade-deal-and-found-it-had-lots-of-risks-and-no-a6999646.html

    [3] TTIP - The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership. It's a complicated name, for a dodgy trade deal. It's easy to get confused in all the detail, but there are some helpful resources out there to understand what the deal is, and why it's bad. It’s basically an EU-US trade deal that’s currently being negotiated. It’s been criticised for a number of different reasons – as a threat to our NHS, our food standards, animal welfare and our democracy. Many 38 Degrees members have been in touch to ask for further information on the deal, so here are some news articles and comment pieces you might like to read:
    https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2014/10/12/information-on-ttip/

    It might seem strange to talk about a trade deal being negotiated in the EU while the EU referendum is going on. When it comes to TTIP, nothing’s certain. But as negotiations on the deal are going on right now we need to keep on having our say. These articles gives some examples of what could happen to the UK’s involvement in TTIP if we vote to leave the EU:
    The Independent: No, we can't protect ourselves from TTIP by leaving Europe. Here's why:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/no-we-cant-protect-ourselves-from-ttip-by-leaving-europe-heres-why-a6853876.html
    The Guardian: US warns Britain: If you leave EU you face barriers to trading with America:
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/29/us-warns-britain-it-could-face-trade-barriers-if-it-leaves-eu

    Leading independent barrister and EU specialist, Michael Bowsher QC, was commissioned by Unite the Union to produce a legal opinion on the potential impact of TTIP on the NHS. In his advice he said that TTIP poses a “real and serious risk” to the NHS. He’s said that if the deal goes ahead as it is, privatisation of our NHS could be irreversible. A full copy of the advice can be found here:
    http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/MBTTIPAdvice20111511-25674.pdf

    [4] 38 Degrees blog: TTIP: Bending the ear of the US President:
    https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2016/04/26/ttip-bending-the-ear-of-the-us-president/

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  9. Greenpeace have leaked 248 pages of the TTIP agreement. ALL our worst fears have been proven right.

    Now ordinary people can download and read the agreement text for themselves... information from a Greenpeace tweet and Independent Newspaper.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ttip-leaks-shocking-what-are-they-eu-us-deal-a7010121.html

    Simon

    https://twitter.com/GreenpeaceNL/status/727060073281937408

    Secret #TTIP papers live RIGHT NOW. Read them at http://ttip-leaks.org

    Some other tweets of related interest are:

    https://twitter.com/Greenpeace/status/727138351891910658

    https://twitter.com/GreenpeaceNL/status/727167810141564928

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  10. This link leads to information about how the EU Referendum might (or might not) affect whether the TTIP trade deal applies to us here in the UK.

    The link explains the issues in greater detail.

    https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1007

    Simon

    ReplyDelete