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August 21, 2014 / politicsbitesize

TTIP: The silent threat

NoTTIPAt the beginning of July, War on Want launched protests against the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Thousands of people across the UK took to the streets of Birmingham, Manchester and London to protest against the EU/US trade deal.

The protests are a part of a larger campaign to spread the word about the dangers of TTIP to democracy, public services and jobs. TTIP is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. Proponents of TTIP describe the initiative as simply aiming to remove trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors in order to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US.   But activists are calling it ‘the biggest shift of power to transnational capital for a generation’.

According to information accessed by War on Want, the European Commission has admitted that the treaty could result in the ‘prolonged and substantial’ dislocation of European workers. Companies are more likely to source goods and services from the US because production and labour costs are currently cheaper there than in the EU thanks to poorer working conditions and non-existent trade union rights.

A July press release by War on Want highlights the potential risk to food safety that TTIP poses. For example, products that are currently ‘banned in Europe, such as hormone-treated beef, could make their way into UK supermarkets, with greater penetration of genetically modified imports.’ Furthermore, the deal would allow US companies involved in the fracking of shale gas additional access to the energy market in the EU and even permit them to object to bans placed on this controversial method of extraction.

Most worryingly of all is the proposed Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause that will allow multinational companies to sue individual countries directly for loss of profits that were due to public policy decisions.

A paper on the subject by John Hilary, the executive director of the War on Want, highlights the disturbing fact that, ‘under TTIP, US and EU corporations would be granted the power to challenge democratic decisions made by sovereign States, and to claim compensation where those decisions have an adverse impact on their profits.’ He goes on to warn that countries wouldn’t just be paying compensation to these companies for their actual losses but for any potential future loss.

The effect of this clause and the trade deal itself could be catastrophic to institutions such as the NHS. TTIP is seeking to ‘create new markets by opening up public services and government procurement contracts to competition from transnational corporations’. So if the initiative is allowed to go through it is highly likely that institutions like the NHS would become fully privatised. Add ISDS in to this arrangement and the power to control the market would lie completely in the hands of private companies.

As we know, the government is already enabling private companies in their bids for NHS services, but if TTIP is allowed to go thorough then this privatisation will be irreversible. Renationalisation would be extremely difficult and cost prohibitive.   As Hilary told EurActiv during the July protests, ‘people need to be conscious that TTIP would prevent any new government from taking the NHS back into public ownership.’

Despite the numbers that turned out to protest against the initiative and the efforts made by the campaign organisers to promote the fight against TTIP, the issue is still not being covered by the mainstream media. The World Development Movement (WDM) are asking people to write to their local newspapers and spread the word via social media in order to beat this ‘undemocratic deal’ and to make sure that the wider public knows about TTIP and the impact it would have.  Can you help spread the word?


One Comment

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  1. Dil Green / Aug 29 2014 12:23 pm

    38 degrees are organising leafletting on this issue this weekend

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