De Jong demands end to back-room politics surrounding EU-US free trade agreement

27 November 2013

De Jong demands end to back-room politics surrounding EU-US free trade agreement

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong today called for a hearing at the European Parliament on the proposed EU free trade agreement with the US. For this hearing it’s imperative that national MPs are invited who are interested in organising similar events in the member states. De Jong issued the call during a protest march attended by activists from across Europe gathered in Brussels for a two day event under the name Alternative Trade Mandate. ‘Nobody in Europe appreciates just how far-reaching would be the consequences of the intended agreement with the US. People are being deliberately kept in the dark. That’s completely undemocratic. During special hearings we need to put the European Commission and the Council of Ministers under intense pressure to make at least the main points of the negotiating mandate public.’

Dennis de Jong at a demonstration for fair trade

The SP’s criticisms are directed at, amongst other things, the infamous specifications on investment protection. ‘I understand very well that firms that invest in other countries want to be protected from unlawful expropriation’, says De Jong. But this accord tips things completely in their favour. All state measures which might cause existing or even future investments to fall in value would be open to challenge at a secret tribunal. Corporations could claim billions, for example if a member state will only give its approval to sustainable energy or to seeks restrict the sale of tobacco. This treaty could represent a seismic shift in the power relations between states and corporations.’

At the moment the Netherlands is playing a dubious role in the way in which corporations are acting against governments in relation to international trade, but many other EU member states, according to De Jong, are opposed to the import of an American claim culture. ‘This treaty, moreover, goes a big step further than the Dutch rules,’ he points out. ‘A secret tribunal will be established where major corporations will be able to summons national authorities to court without social organisations or journalists having any right to know anything about what’s happening, taking both national democracy and national judiciaries out of the game. I expect this to be a step too far for the Dutch Parliament too.’

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