Seattle to Brussels 14.6.2013
EU and US business to profit from the crisis?
After the green light received from the Council, the Commission will start negotiating with the US in July. It is already clear the concerns of civil society organisations (consumers, trade unions and NGOs), of the European Parliament and of Member States, will not be addressed.
Following the announcement of last February, the EU will start negotiating a trade and investment agreement with the U.S. The mandate received by the Commission, following the non transparent practice in trade policy, will not be officially disclosed . Nevertheless, multiple leaks have shown that the approach to this agreement, focused on the search for “regulatory convergence” between the EU and the US, is dominated by attempts to eliminate regulatory distinctions for the sake of narrow business interests.
The concerns of the civil society organisations are hardly being addressed:
the leaked mandate drafts confirm the concerns of the campaigners who won the ACTA struggle: the formulations regarding intellectual monopoly rights make their fears bigger that something like a super- ACTA could arise from this negotiations;
the demands for exemption of audio-visual services from the negotiation, coming from one member state (France) and already approved with a motion by the European Parliament, remain unheard
as emphasised by the trade union movement, the US has only ratified 2 of the 8 ILO minimum labour standards conventions; “regulatory convergence” will enhance the “race to the bottom” as other experiences show
the “no carve out” approach of the Commission ignores also the demand to exclude public services from the negotiations, coming from trade unions and from a vast network of CSOs.
the concerns for food and agriculture: what kind of “regulatory convergence” are the negotiators planning with regard to GMOs, chlorine chicken, hormone-treated beefs, etc? Will these finally be allowed to enter?
trade unions, consumers, NGOs, both in Europe and in the US, demand the exclusion of any Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)mechanism from the agreement. They all consider it as a threat for democracy and an unacceptable privilege offered to investors
Further concerns have been raised about financial regulation, climate Justice, safe drugs and medical devices
The main argument put forward for this agreement is the miraculous economic boost it would bring. However a closer look at even the most optimistic scenario shows it would only bring a one-off 0,5% GDP increase – in a more realistic scenario it is only a one-off 0,1% . . Moreover far from being the solution to the current economic, social and ecological crisis, “free trade” policies and deregulation have created the conditions that lead tothe current crises. The TTIP represents the other face of the austerity policies: profiting from the pressure of the crisis, business elites are trying to dismantle the last elements of a European social model. Trade could play a positive role in serving the interest of the people, the planet and the environment, but to do so trade policy must be taken out of corporate control and behind closed-door decision making and completely reshaped in an open and democratic environment (www.alternativetrademandate.org). Unfortunately with the TTIP, this is not at all the case.
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