Van Dijk: ‘The TTIP will make US and EU one and the same’

11 October 2014

Van Dijk: ‘The TTIP will make US and EU one and the same’

Today a broad coalition of social organisations and political parties demonstrated against the Transatlantic trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the trade agreement with the United States that will destroy social standards and democratic rights. SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk addressed demonstrators assembled in the Beursplein in Amsterdam. Below is an abbreviated version of his speech.

Today we are demonstrating in more than a hundred towns against treaties with impossible abbreviations.

CETA, TTIP, TISA. A normal person is put right off by these, which is fine for their supporters, because you won’t get any more trouble from people who are put off. These treaties have far-reaching consequences for people and for countries across the globe. Don’t give their supporters any chance to think that everyone’s happy with them. The opposite is the truth, which is why we’re standing here today.

The TTIP promises mountains of gold: more jobs, more growth, more prosperity. In reality it is a serious attack on our social standards and on our democracy. Its goal is to remove barriers to trade: rules that corporations find burdensome. But these rules aren’t there for no reason: rules governing the safety of cars – lower these standards and safety will be undermined; rules governing the import of meat – get rid of these and you’ll get unsafe meat, like chloride chickens and meat containing added hormones; rules governing clean energy and raw materials – get rid of these and you’ll get shale gas, as is already the case in the US.

Not only existing rules, but also new policies will meet difficulties. This is because the Treaty will lay down the rules for both the US and the EU. The TTIP determines the standards, whether for litre glasses, chloride chicken or shale gas.

We don’t want that. At the very least we should be in on the discussion. But that isn’t happening, because negotiations are held behind closed doors. ‘Wait till we come out’, they say, but by then it’s too late. In Brussels this happens time after time: you’re too soon, too soon, too soon, too late. This time that’s not going to work. This time we’re on time.

The TTIP is also notorious because of ‘investor protection’. This means that corporations can sue a state in a special court, for example because new policies will lead to reduced profits. Countries have previously been sued and forced to pay big claims for damages. This is the world turned upside down.

Countries must be free to make their own policies. Social policy, health and safety, environmental policy. This freedom must not be limited because corporations don’t like some new rules. The TTIP will make America and Europe one and the same. But we’re not going to put up with that. This treaty is not going to happen.

It’s still unclear whether national parliaments will have the chance to vote on this treaty or not. In the European Commission’s view, it’s exclusively a matter for Brussels, and they are even prepared to go to court to enforce this.

Because imagine what would happen if people were given a say; imagine what would happen if a referendum were held. That’s why this seems to me a very good plan: a referendum on the TTIP.

A European Citizens’ Initiative has already been rejected. You can today still add your signatures, however. We are going to do all we can to have your voices heard in Brussels. If necessary we’ll come back here every week. Let them hear from you: sign the petitions, sign our manifesto. Because we don’t want our democracy selling off. We don’t want a Trojan Horse. We don’t want a stranglehold contract. Give us fair trade and a full voice in negotiations.




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