Europe and the USA are in the midst of negotiating a huge trade deal — the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership or TTIP. The TTIP isn’t just a simple trade treaty; it’s actually a huge corporate power grab affecting literally millions of European and American citizens.
If agreed, TTIP would hand corporations the power to overturn democratically decided laws, on everything from environmental protections to food safety, through a system of secret courts that only corporations would have access to.
We already know that European leaders aren’t sure what to do about this — the EU is about to launch a big consultation across Europe asking organisations and everyday people for their views. There’s a real danger that the loudest voices could be coming from the very corporations that stand to benefit from such a system. The consultation starts really soon, so we don’t have long to prove that it’s people power that counts, not corporate power.
Can we manage to tell European leaders to reject the TTIP and stop the corporate power grab?
Image from: http://www.sodahead.com/united-states
The trade deal between Europe and the US wouldn’t be the first one with these sorts of rules. We’re already seeing what this means in practice:
•In Australia, tobacco giant Phillip Morris is suing the government for its tough anti-smoking laws.
•The German government is being sued by a Vattenfall, a Swedish nuclear power group, for wanting to phase out nuclear power.
•The pesticide giant, Dow Chemical, was able to sue the Canadian government when it tried to stop Dow selling a controversial pesticide.
•The Other Drug War: Pharmaceutical Companies like British giant GlaxoSmithKline, and WTO Sue Brazil, India and South Africa to Protect prices and Patents, but they lost their cases. (see also http://www.democracynow.org/ )
The rules about corporations suing government aren’t the only problem with the trade deal that the EU is negotiating with the US. There are real worries it could make life-saving drugs much more expensive, it could hand the music industry the power to cut off your internet supply, and could mean an end to rules to fight climate change like Europe’s emissions trading scheme (cap & trade).
The very fact that Europe has been forced to open up the secret court provisions to public consultation shows that Europe is worried this might not pass. We now have a real chance to get one of the worst aspects struck out of the deal for good and we should grab it. The deal itself is of course a dire problem which should be replaced with a non-liberalistic trading accord and not market based.
We have to tell Europe’s leaders to reject the TTIP secret courts and stand up for the European people’s rights and democracy. And this we will tell the elite through hard political work and mass protest!
-Costa Rica’s rainforests are some of the most amazing places on earth. So when a Canadian mining company wanted to put an open pit, cyanide-leach gold mine in the middle of its most pristine forest, Costa Rica didn’t just say no. They said hell, no.
So what did the mining company do? They sued Costa Rica for $100 million lost profits.
It’s the latest strategy in corporate bullying: If a country won’t let you do whatever you want, then sue them for violating «free trade.»
Costa Rica is the tip of the iceberg. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly sued Canada to increase drug prices. Philip Morris has sued Australia over cigarette warning labels. The list goes on and on — and under proposed trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we’ll see an explosion of these kinds of lawsuits.
But fighting corporate bullies is exactly what SumOfUs.org and others was set up to do. Using the Internet to organize, our worldwide membership has the collective power to stand up to big corporations, so countries like Costa Rica don’t have to face these corporate bullies alone.
Shortly after Infinito Gold proposed its mine, Costa Rica banned the kind of destructive open pit mining they wanted to do. And you’d think that would be the end of it — but because of a so-called free trade agreement between Canada and Costa Rica, many experts think Infinito Gold will win its lawsuit. If it do, Costa Rica will have to pay a huge sum of money just because they decided to protect their forests.
Costa Rica is just one example of a growing trend of corporations bullying sovereign governments — and it could get a lot worse because of similar trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that could affect virtually all of Europe, Australia, Asia, and North and South America.
So we’re fighting back. First, we’re blowing the whistle every time a corporation tries to bully a nation like Costa Rica. Second, we’re organizing to block new trade deals like the TPP and TTIP.