What is the TTIP? Why is it bad news? What can you do about it in the UK?
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a bilateral 'free trade' agreement currently under secret negotiation by the EU, USA and powerful industry lobbies.
According to its supporters the TTIP will boost economic growth and create jobs, but in reality it represents a corporate assault on our health, food safety, public services and the ecosystems we rely upon as EU citizens.
This is because the TTIP is designed to 'harmonise' regulations and standards (regarded as 'trade irritants' by industry) between the EU and US. Since the EU has much stronger trade regulations protecting public health, food safety, and the environment, this 'harmonisation' really means deregulation in the EU; reducing protections for the environment and public health, in favour of exploiting them for corporate profits.
If it is successful the TTIP will also place transnational corporations above the law, giving them new powers that undermine democracy and the ability of governments to control them.
The EU and US want to finalise TTIP by the end of 2014, so it is vital that we understand and resist this threat to our health, ecosystems and common heritage. Here are some insights at a glance, and a few suggestions for how you can take action to stop the TTIP.
The TTIP's regulatory harmonisations will ignite a 'race to the bottom' of environmental regulations in the EU, so that they come to resemble the USA's far weaker regulatory system.
This watering down of protective regulation, and the likely abandonment of the precautionary principle, (the cornerstone of EU environmental legislation) will open up our ecosystems to unchecked exploitation from fracking, GM monocultures, mining and other threats. It will also open EU markets to ecologically damaging and toxic products, such as tar sands, fuelling further ecological devastation around the globe. To top it all the TTIP could lock the EU and the USA into intensified use of fossil fuels.
Many analysts agree that TTIP is a trojan horse for big food corporations aiming to avoid food safety regulations and undermine sustainable agricultural practices in their rush for profits and trade.
Indeed, TTIP agreements, if agreed, would have a tremendous impact on our diet and food safety choice. The abandonment of the precautionary principle could open up the EU market to many unhealthy products currently banned from EU, such as chlorinated chicken and hormone beef, and could lead to the abolition food safety regulations, such as those governing the use of GMOs.
Harmonisation is also likely to further entrench the fossil fuel driven system of industrial agriculture in Europe, making it more difficult for small-scale, locally based and agro-ecological approaches to emerge.
TTIP will accelerate the privatisation of public goods and services such as the UK's National Health Service (NHS).
TTIP will guarantee transnational corporations the right to bid for all government spending, including on health. This is likely to lead to the mass privatisation of public services through a process of liberalisation. Privatising these public service will reduce governmental capacity to control, for example, the price of medicines and health services.
In this way the TTIP could transform our health systems, shifting their focus from caring for the real needs of the people, to making profit for a few elite groups.
The TTIP represents an unabashed corporate attack on democracy. This attack is implemented through something known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), a mechanism that grants corporations the right to sue governments if they pass laws or enact policies that could reduce a corporation's present or future profits.
ISDS will allow corporation's to sue such government's through secretive international trade courts. The money won by corporations in these secretive and undemocratic 'justice' proceedings will be taken directly from the taxpayers' pockets.
ISDS and similar provisions have already been used to undermine authorities who chose to protect their people and Earth around the world to chilling effect. Even before legislation is passed they have prevented states from introducing socially or environmentally progressive measures for fear of being challenged through ISDS.
What YOU can do to help stop the TTIP
The movement against TTIP is building in the UK and abroad. There are plenty of organizations, unions and civil society movements organising in the fight to prevent this corporate tidal wave. For example, in May 2014 a European Civil Society group made up of 250 organisations made a joint statement in which they stand together against the TTIP agreement. You can join this growing movement in a number of ways:
If you have a little time, send a petition and/or write a letter.
- Join WDM and send a letter to Vince Cable, UK Secretary for Business Investment and Skills, and tell him why you don't want the TTIP.
- Join the 38 degree campaign and donate to sustain the fight against TTIP
- Sign the anti-TTIP SumOfUs petition
- Sign Avaaz's petition against TTIP
- Tell the European Commission you reject secret pro-corporate courts
- Join #NOTTIP and stay updated with events organised for the National Day of Action on 12 July
If you have a bit more time, join the groups meeting and campaigning about TTIP.
- The StopTTIP UK group is based in London and organises an open meeting every two weeks at the UNITE Building in Holborn. Join them or visit their website to learn more and sign petitions.
- Raise your voice and be part of the first National Day of Action against TTIP on July 12. This will be preceeded by a UK tour organised by War on Want, World Development Movement, Rosa Luxemburg Association together with other partners to raise awareness about TTIP. For more info on how to get involved and dates, visit the website
If you want to learn more about TTIP
- Watch international trade researcher Linda Kaucher's recent talk at The Gaia Foundation.
- Visit the websites of some of the organisations working on this crucial issue: