Talks on EU-US trade and investment pact still secret

26 March 2014

Talks on EU-US trade and investment pact still secret

The European Union and the United States are clinging tenaciously to their intention to conclude an agreement on trade and investment, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). So stated President Barak Obama, European Commission President Jose Barroso and European Council chairman Herman van Rompuy today in Brussels. Commenting on the delaration, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said that ‘in it they state that support for the agreement amongst the people must be increased. At the same time concerns amongst the public over this treaty are growing by the week, and so they should be, because it is going to have radical effects on our legislation. You won’t get rid of these fears by keeping the negotiating texts secret. The first demand is therefore that there should be openness regarding the question of what exactly the negotiations are about. I don’t see anything about this in the declaration, however.’

Dennis de JongIn the joint declaration the EU and the US listed only the general aims agreed upon last year. De Jong points to the inclusion of ‘the controversial special arbitration tribunals. These tribunals will enable corporations to sue governments for billions,’ he notes. ‘A well-known example of such a suit is that brought by energy giant Vattenfal against the German government as a result of the latter’s decision to end the country’s use of nuclear power. As a result of this, Vattenfal will not be able to build further nuclear power stations in Germany and is demanding billions in compensation against future lost profits. These arbitration tribunals are so controversial that the European Commission has announced, under pressure, that a public consultation on the matter will take place. Today’s declaration said not a word about the justified concerns of the public. When they say they are seeking more support for this treaty it’s just therefore an empty phrase.’

The SP is a declared opponent of the TTIP. This is not only because it is being concluded outside the public gaze and will establish special tribunals for corporate claims against governments, but, as De Jong explains, because it ‘makes in reality one big common market of the EU and US, which will mean that as many regulations as possible where corporate interests are involved will be harmonised. This will apply for example to laws governing food safety and approval of medicines. We have no need, on top of interference from Brussels with our food standards, for Washington to be joining in a conversation about the quality of our food.‘

During the campaign for the European Parliament elections the SP will be organising demonstrations against the treaty. 13th May will see a national day of action in the Netherlands.

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