TTIP is not there for the citizens of Europe

25 July 2015

TTIP is not there for the citizens of Europe

Foto: SP

Anxiety about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the treaty being negotiated between the EU and the US, is ungrounded, Daniël Bosgraaf and Raoul Leerling asserted in the national newspaper De Volkskrant on 23rd July. Yet anyone who takes the facts seriously must conclude that the TTIP would undermine democracy and privilege multinationals at the expense of governments, consumers, the environment and small firms, as SP leader Emile Roemer and Euro-MP argue below.

Emile Roemer and Anne-Marie Mineur

Bosgraaf en Leerling make a passionately argued case in favour of the controversial arbitration system the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, part of the TTIP. ISDS is needed, they say, ‘because American courts never test laws against international law.’ Evidently they have no faith in the European negotiators and their American interlocutors. Under normal circumstances the United States government transposes any agreement made by them which refers to international law into their own national law. The European negotiators could make efforts to ensure this. If Bosgraaf and Leerling don’t trust that the negotiations can be brought to a sound conclusion, then they should join the SP on 10th October in demonstrating against the treaty. With ISDS we are establishing a parallel legal system which will side-step and undermine our existing courts, a dangerous manoeuvre.

At least as important is the misconception in Bosgraff and Leerling’s argument that ‘the TTIP negotiations are aimed principally at the acceptance of methods of measurement and not the acceptance of demands.’ These gentlemen have clearly not read the negotiating mandate which was released following public pressure. In this there’s no talk of methods of measurement; what’s for the most part at issue are services, public procurement and movement of capital.

We might have known. TTIP is based on the wishlist of Business Europe, the European umbrella group for employers’ organisations, to which the Netherlands’ own VNO/NCW is affiliated. Read their 2012 memorandum alongside the negotiating mandate, and you will not be able to deny that European and American big business determined the agenda for this treaty. Contacts with corporate interests continue to make up 90% of what the European Commission calls ‘consultation and involvement of society’.

If the multinationals get their way, our laws and regulations will henceforth be pre-cooked by European and US officials. Big business will be in the front row, able to say what can and can’t be included. Only then will the European Parliament, and possibly the national parliaments, be allowed to comment. Yet another weakening of our democracy.

It’s clear that TTIP isn’t there for the citizens of Europe. It will not make food any safer, improve public health or enhance the environment. It will more likely bring junk jobs than decent work. TTIP is there for the multinationals, no more and no less.

This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, on The Post Online on 25th July.

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