Free Trade Agreement between EU and US a race down the waste pipe

16 July 2013

Free Trade Agreement between EU and US a race down the waste pipe

This week saw the start of negotiations between the EU and the US on a free trade agreement. The SP is opposed to this proposed treaty, as SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains. ‘The words ‘free trade agreement’ are completely misleading,’ he says. ‘It’s nothing to do with the traditional lowering of tariffs, as these are already relatively low. What the agreement is seeking to achieve is the creation of a huge internal market such as now exists within the European Union. Without effective guarantees on social rights, the environment and food security and safety, this will be the starting gun for a race down the drain.’

Dennis de JongThe SP is wary of American standards in a number of areas, ‘In Europe we have decided to proceed with caution when it comes to genetically-based technologies, while standards for food safety for meat products are much higher. Even if you exclude these things, the danger is that recognition of each other’s standards in other matters will become automatic. That would mean that all sorts of products could come on to the European market which don’t meet our present standards for safety, environmental matters and decent working conditions.’ A further sticking point for the SP is linked to the possibilities which corporations will gain to demand compensation from governments. According to the rules which would be imposed by this agreement, European governments could be arraigned before an international trade tribunal for taking any measure which interfered with trade. That could mean a great deal. Germany, for example, has had to pay a billion euros to the Swedish energy firm Vattenfall, because it’s decided to close down its nuclear power stations. Vattenfall sees this as damaging to the investments which the firm has made in nuclear energy. You are as a country no longer free in regard to your choices when it comes to energy and environmental policy.’

It’s not only the SP which is against the proposals for a free trade treaty. Social organisations are also perturbed by its implications. Corporate European Observatory (CEO) and the Trans National Institute (TNI) have produced a report explaining the possible consequences of the agreement.

See the CEO/TNI report on this website.

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