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 and consumer rights, 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 has launched a big consultation across Europe asking organisations and everyday people for their views. There real danger is that the loudest voices could be coming from the very corporations that stand to benefit from such a system. The consultation seem to show this, 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?
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/ )
Just now documents have been revealed from the secrect negotiations and presented in an article below by Süddeutsche Zeitung. The disclosure of 16 TTIP negotiation papers finally give us some evidence of this bad neo-liberal trade monster that will influence millions up on millions of peoples daily lifes for the near future. IF the negotiators succeeds?
TTIP Documents Revealed
By Alexander Hagelüken and Alexander Mühlauer – 1. mai 2016
The United States government is putting more intense and significantly more far-reaching pressure on the European Union than previously thought during the ongoing negotiations to reach an accord on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This has become evident from copies of confidential negotiation documents that have been made available to Süddeutsche Zeitung and the German radio and television stations WDR and NDR. The material, consisting of 240 pages, was provided by Greenpeace and will be published this coming Monday. Several people familiar with the negotiations confirm that the documents provided are current.
According to the documents, Washington is threatening to prevent the easing of exports for the European car industry in order to force Europe to buy more U.S. agricultural products. The U.S. government concurrently has criticized the fundamental prevention principal of the EU Consumer Centre which protects 500 million Europeans from consuming genetically modified food and hormone-treated meat. The documents further reveal the fact that the U.S. has blocked the urgent European call to replace the controversial private arbitration tribunals, responsible for corporative lawsuits, with a public State model; instead, Washington has made a suggestion on the matter that had hitherto not been disclosed to the public.
The publication of these TTIP documents provides citizens with an unfiltered insight into the negotiations between the U.S. and Europe. Ever since the start of negotiations three years ago, the public could only try to guess what both sides were discussing, which has prompted millions of people to take to the streets in protest of TTIP. While the EU is making its suggestions publicly available, the U.S. insists on keeping their stances on issues secret. Washington utilizes this tactic to ensure a larger scope for negotiations. The disclosure of these 16 TTIP negotiation papers finally offers a fuller transparency for the 800 million people spread over two continents whose lives will be affected by the biggest bilateral trade agreement in history.
The papers allow for a deep insight into U.S. tactics, such as Washington’s active push to prevent the easing of export regulations of the European car industry, as this sector plays a central role in Europe’s economy. One of the confidential documents demonstrates that the U.S. government “hastened to point out that it would need to consult with its industry regarding some of the products and that progress on motor vehicle-related parts would only be possible if the EU showed progress in the discussion on agricultural tariffs.”
But the export of agricultural products is not the main focus of the U.S.. Washington has also set its sights on controversial genetically modified foods that are mostly prohibited within the Europe Union. Both sides have often stressed up until now that the U.S. will respect European concerns in this matter, and that Europe’s citizens do not have to be worried about this issue. But the confidential material paints a very different picture of the situation. “It is really quite interesting to see the demands the U.S. has made,” says Klaus Müller, chairman of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, while evaluating the documents. “Perusing the documents has shown that nearly all of our fears regarding the U.S.’ TTIP intentions for the food market have been proven to be justified.”
The U.S., for example, demands that statutory prohibitions on products to protect human health should only be allowed to be passed if it has been scientifically proven that these products really are harmful. The EU bans products such as hormone-treated meat or genetically modified food as a precautionary measure if only the slightest hint of risk emerges, whereas the U.S. only bans them if people have already been harmed as a result of consuming said products.
The negotiation papers also reveal, for the first time how often the differing points of opinions clash between the parties. The U.S. demands in a chapter on consumer protection, among other things, that prior to passing a ban the EU should evaluate “any alternatives to achieve the appropriate level of protection,” meaning that no law in this regard should be passed in the first place. In addition to this, the EU should also publicly explain “whether any of those alternatives are significantly less restrictive to trade.” The EU counters that it would decide itself whether or not to allow for controversial U.S. foods to pass across their borders, seeing as the “appropriate level of sanitary protection rests solely with the importing Party.”
Another serious point of contention is legislative cooperation. Both the U.S. and Europe gave the impression that they were mostly in agreement regarding legislative regulation. But the negotiation papers suggest something very different. While the EU stresses its right to legislative self-determination in the documents, the U.S. wants to severely curtail the scope of European legislators in regards to economic decisions where it has demonstrated in several suggestions it has made. One example is the demand formulated by the U.S. that “each Party shall maintain procedures that promote the consideration of the following factors when conducting a regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for a regulation.” Namely, this means that the EU is supposed to introduce a process that will evaluate “the need for a proposed regulation” in conjunction with an analysis of “the anticipated costs and benefits (quantitative, qualitative, or both) of such alternatives.”
“It will severely complicate legislation in environmental and consumer matters should the Americans assert themselves in this matter,” says Markus Krajewski, Professor of Public Law in Erlangen, in regard to the currently published suggestions made by the U.S..
U.S. legislation is fundamentally different than that of the EU. In the EU, for example, the use of 1,308 various chemicals in cosmetics is prohibited in light of suspicions that they may be carcinogenic. The responsible U.S. authority on the other hand, according to consumer protection organizations, prohibits no more than exactly 11 substances.
Translated by Worldcrunch
Article from: sueddeutsche.de
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