May 5, 2016
(ANTIMEDIA) Amid mass speculation that a shock leak of documents could spell the end of the road for the toxic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP/TTP), even European leaders have begun distancing themselves from the much-hated deal. Angela Merkel has voiced strong opposition to the state of the negotiations, given that only a minority of Germans agree the E.U. should negotiate trade agreements on Germany’s behalf. At the same time, French president Francois Hollande has stated France will reject the partnership at this stage because the country is opposed to “unregulated” free trade.
According to campaign group, War on Want, the European Commission slapped a 30-year ban on public access to the negotiation texts back in 2013 — knowing they would not survive the outcry once the public glimpsed the extent of the deal. The group noted that in the past, campaigners called for a ‘Dracula strategy’ against the highly secretive trade agreement, knowing it would die when dragged into the light.
Seemingly, that is exactly what is happening. Responding to the leak earlier this week, Executive Director of War on Want, John Hilary wrote: “Today the door has been flung open and the first rays of sunlight shone on TTIP. The EU negotiators will never be able to crawl back into the shadows again.”
The huge leak of TTIP documents orchestrated by Greenpeace Netherlands spans 13 of the 17 chapters of the proposals. Greenpeace trade expert Jergen Knirsch told a Berlin news conference that the talks were made public to ignite a debate. Claiming the leak shows negotiations should be halted, Knirsch added, “The best thing the E.U. Commission can do is to say ‘Sorry, we’ve made a mistake’.”
Launched by Barack Obama in 2013, the first round of secret negotiations between the European Commission and U.S. officials took place in the same year. The most recent negotiations were held last week and it was reiterated that both sides hoped to reach a deal in the second half of the year.
In the past, officials have acknowledged the purpose of the treaty is not to stimulate trade by removing tariffs between the E.U. and the U.S., but to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ restricting the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Some of these ‘barriers’ are in fact, standards and environmental regulations including labour rights, food safety rules — including restrictions on GMOs — as well as regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws, and banking safeguards.
As War on Want has said, the stakes could not be higher.
Subjects covered in the leaked 248 pages include E.U. food safety standards and include details of more specific threats, such as the United States’ plan to end Europe’s ban on genetically modified foods. The documents also reveal that U.S. corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any public health or safety regulations introduced in the future.
More chillingly, if European governments do bring in laws to raise standards, TTIP grants U.S. investors the right to sue for loss of profits in corporate court systems — which will be unavailable to domestic firms or governments.
Essentially, companies can sue governments but governments cannot sue companies.
The texts also uncover how the European Commission is paving the way to open up the economy to competition from giant U.S. corporations. Official statistics suggest at least a million jobs will be lost as a direct result of TTIP — and you can double that if the full deal goes through.
“Yet we can now see that EU negotiators are preparing to trade away whole sectors of our economies in TTIP, with no care for the human consequences,” Hilary wrote.
Adamant that the contempt shown by TTIP negotiators to Europeans is a potent reminder of the democratic deficit at the heart of E.U. institutions — particularly for those of in the thick of the E.U referendum — Hilary added:
“Today’s leak of the TTIP text leaves the leaders of the European Union with a choice. Either they abandon the TTIP negotiations immediately or they risk seeing the entire European project come crashing down about their ears. They have until 23 June to decide.”
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