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EU-US (TTIP)

In February 2013, US President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to announce the launch of negotiations towards a comprehensive free trade and investment agreement between the USA and the European Union. The first round of negotiations, held in July that year, represented the realisation of a dream long held by the business lobbyists of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, who had pressed for a free trade agreement between the EU and USA since the 1990s. Yet the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) seeks to be more ambitious than any previous trade deal, encompassing a vast range of issue areas in order to reengineer the social and economic landscape on both sides of the Atlantic in favour of capital.

Given that most tariffs between the EU and USA are already at minimal levels, the central focus of the negotiations is the removal of regulatory barriers to trade. This deregulation will contribute 80 per cent of the total corporate gains from TTIP, according to official calculations, yet the ‘barriers’ to be removed include some of the most important rules and standards that safeguard public health, labour rights and the environment. Negotiators are also keen to remove rules that protect local economies and jobs from unfair competition, with potentially devastating consequences. The official assessment undertaken for the European Commission in 2013 calculated that TTIP will lead directly to the loss of at least one million jobs in the EU and USA combined.

Where the negotiations are unable to complete this deregulatory agenda, TTIP seeks to harmonise regulations. Any proposed new regulations in the future could be screened in order to minimise their impact on private sector activity. If national governments do still introduce any new laws or regulations on corporate activity, TTIP will include provisions for an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism to allow foreign investors to sue the host country in their own privileged court system for any resulting loss of future profits.

The EU and USA have seen their global economic importance diminish since the Second World War, so that they now represent around half of world GDP rather than three quarters, as before. In geopolitical terms, TTIP is an attempt to restore the transatlantic alliance in response to the challenge of emerging economies such as Brazil, India and China. Frustrated at no longer being able to impose their will unchallenged in the multilateral forum of the WTO, the EU and USA have identified TTIP as their opportunity to devise together a template for all future trade deals around the world.

The other geopolitical target of TTIP is Russia. The negotiation of increased exports of oil and gas from the USA to Europe is explicitly designed to break the dependence of Central and Eastern European states on energy supplies from Russia, with US negotiators speaking openly of TTIP as the ‘economic NATO’ that will allow Washington to isolate Moscow as it did in the Cold War. Yet TTIP will thereby condemn Europe to decades of dependency on fossil fuels from North America, just when the reality of climate change demands an immediate transition to clean energy sources. Despite its admission that TTIP will lead to millions of tonnes of extra CO2 emissions, the European Commission is still using the negotiations to press for unrestricted access to US energy supplies.

There is now an unprecedented movement of mass opposition against TTIP in Europe. Anti-TTIP platforms have been established in every one of the 28 EU member states, and the self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP and CETA raised over 3.3 million signatures in its first year alone. US labour and environmental groups are also raising their voices against TTIP, even if the debate in the USA has been more focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) instead. The EU-US trade negotiations are fast becoming a toxic political issue at national and international levels alike, as citizens recognise that the fight over TTIP is a fight for our very future.

Following strong public outcry and the election of Trump in the US, the talks were put on hold in 2017.

In July 2018, the US President and the EU Commission President agreed to relaunch trade talks on a "TTIP light" deal, after Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on European cars. The EU has been mandated to negotiate a limited agreement (on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products, and on conformity assessment) while the US aimed for a larger deal that includes agriculture.

Contributed by John Hilary, War on Want in March 2016; updated in July 2019

Photo: Friends of the Earth Europe


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      Links


    • #noTTIP
      UK campaign website
    • About the EU-US trade and investment deal
      Information sharing and coordination to stop the Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), set up by Seattle to Brussels Network
    • Alliance D19-20
      L’alliance D19-20 est une alliance non partisane de citoyen-ennes, d’agriculteurs-trices, de syndicats qui luttent contre les politiques d’austérité. #D1920
    • Camp No TTIP!
      Brussels, 13-17 October 2015. Five Days Fighting TTIP : Meetings, Actions, Blockade
    • EPHA news feed on TTIP
      European Public Health Alliance news feed on the prospective EU-US Trade Agreement (TTIP) & its potential impact on public health - Subscribe!!
    • Erstes TTIP Leak
      des deutschsprachigen TTIP Mandats für die Geheimverhandlungen zwischen EU und USA
    • EU negotiating texts in TTIP
      New web page from the European Commission containing fact sheets and proposed legal text for TTIP
    • La Quadature du Net: TAFTA documents
      Consolidated wiki page on TAFTA
    • Não à Parceria Transatlântica de Comércio e Investimento (TTIP)
      Grupo de Portugal para análise crítica ao Acordo UE-EUA (TTIP)
    • NO 2 ISDS!
      Web tool set up by AK Europa, ÖGB Europabüro and Friends of the Earth Europet to help people take part in the EU consultation — until 6 July 2014 — on investor-state dispute settlement as proposed for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
    • No al TTIP
      Campaña contra el Tratado Transatlántico de Comercio e Inversiones
    • No Transat!
      Après des années de négociations discrètes, l’Union européenne et les Etats-Unis préparent officiellement la mise sur pied d’un Marché transatlantique. L’objectif ? Une plus grande libéralisation des échanges commerciaux et financiers, accompagnée de politiques judiciaires et sécuritaires communes. Date butoir ? 2015… c’est-à-dire demain !
    • Non au Traité Transatlantique
      Non au Grand Marché Transatlantique – StopTAFTA – Non au TTIP – Non au TCIP
    • O que esconde a parceria transatlântica (TTIP)?
      Grupo de Portugal para análise crítica ao Acordo UE-EUA (TTIP)
    • Occupy London STOP TTIP working group
      STOP TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) working group is working to help inform and engage the public about the serious consequences of the US- EU Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated in secret
    • Stop TTIP Italia
      Italy’s Stop TTIP campaign website
    • Stop TTIP-CETA-TiSA Greece
    • Stop TTIP/CETA demo 17 Sep
      Website for Germany’s nationwide mass rally in 7 cities on 17 September 2016 against TTIP and CETA
    • The consumer view on TTIP
      Dedicated blog from BEUC, the European Consumers Organisation
    • Transatlantic Business Council
      Lobby group representing 70 global companies headquartered in the US and EU, created in 2013 as the result of a merger between TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) and European-American Business Council (EABC).
    • Trumping Democracy
      The dark secrets of EU-US trade talks
    • TTIP Stoppen
      Austrian campaign website
    • TTIP unfairhandelbar
      TTIP - No Thanks! A coalition of German NGOs active in the field of agriculture, environment, development and trade policy was launched to critically monitor the negotiations between the EU Commission and the US government.
    • TTIP-info-verkosto
      Finnish TTIP-info network
    • Vapaakauppa.fi
      Vapaakauppa.fi is a Finnish site focused on free trade issues, especially big free trade agreements, as TTIP, TiSA and CETA.
    • Youtube > TTIP
      Quick link to videos about TTIP and the people’s fight against it on Youtube