TTIP – No thanks! An alliance of numerous NGOs from the agricultural, environmental, developmental and trade policy sector was established to critically accompany the negotiations between the European Commission and the U.S. Government.
In the face of the ongoing negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US, these civil organizations have joined forces to call attention to the critical points regarding the trade agreement as well as to introduce counter proposals into the discourse. Especially the non-transparent process of the negotiations between the governments is considered to be problematic and gives the voices from civil society even more importance.
Apart from networking and information exchange, the alliance focusses on educational work and appeals to all people and organizations with interest in the topic to engage actively in the debate on this new agreement. It should be made clear to politicians and captains of industry that the methods of free trade and investment protection belong back to the 20th century and can’t be used to find solutions for the current challenges we face. A transatlantic partnership for a socio-ecological transformation that we urgently need in the 21st century must look completely different!
We are of the opinion that the seemingly positive aspects of economic growth and progress through the implementation of TTIP are nothing but a bluff package. The aim isn’t the well-being of the people in Europe, the US and the rest of the world, but the advantage of a few, internationally operating companies like BMW, Monsanto, Deutsche Bank, JP Chase Morgan, BASF, Google, Bertelsmann and ExxonMobil.
This leads to the question if we really need a huge, deregulated transatlantic market. Because below the line TTIP doesn’t answer any of the all-embracing questions: How do we want to live? What is a ‘good life’ without exploiting humans, animals and nature? How can we ensure sustainable management within the earth’s ecological limits and at the same time ensure good and sufficiently paid jobs? How can we gain food sovereignty?
What we criticize about the agreement in the first place is that the objective of solidarity-based economic activity, the protection of small peasant agriculture and a welfare-oriented economy as well as effective consumer, data and legal protection fall behind business interests of international companies. Democracy, social justice, climate protection and financial market supervision are being undermined for their international businesses.
The praised trade flows which are supposed to leverage economic growth through free market access for companies, could in reality mean that genetically modified food and hormone-treated meat will end up on our plates unlabeled in the future; that the ruptured ACTA agreement about copyrights will appear again on the agenda; that freedom of speech and data privacy will be softened even more and that finally nothing but the low consumer protection and environmental standards will remain.
Policy Paper of German Non-governmental organisations on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership EU - USA (TTIP)
BMW and Monsanto look forward to the agreement, and so do “Deutsche Bank” and JP Chase Morgan, BASF and Google as well as Bertelsmann and ExxonMobil. But do people in the EU, the USA and the rest of the world really need a large, deregulated transatlantic market? TTIP provides no answers to the real questions: How do we want to live? What is ‘good life’ that does not rely on exploiting human beings, animals and the environment? How can we manage the economy within the ecological boundaries of the planet and secure good, fairly paid employment? And how can we achieve food sovereignty for all?
We are already in the midst of ecological, social and economic crises. We are experiencing far too little – and not too much – democracy, social justice, climate protection and financial market supervision. We are experiencing far too little – and not too much – solidarity in our economies, protection of family agriculture for the benefit of the public as well as far too little effective consumer, data and legal protection against corporate business interests.
Business representatives in the EU and the USA are promising more growth thanks to the TTIP agreement. They want more trade flows and more market freedom for enterprises. But in practice, this can mean unlabelled genetically engineered food and hormone meat landing on our plates, the latest progress in financial market regulation being reversed and employee rights being undermined. It can mean the ACTA agreement on copyright, which fell through, coming in again through the back door, and freedom of opinion and data protection falling by the wayside. All that will be left are lower consumer and environmental standards. The German Federal Government and the EU Com-mission are relying on secret negotiations closed to the public and parliaments.
Democracy and transparency:
Instead of secret negotiations, we need a broad public discussion over a so-cial and ecological mandate to negotiate on both sides. To this end, comprehensive and up-to-date information and complete access to all negotiation documents has to be ensured. The influence of business lobbyists has to be restricted. In addition, the Commission must have a comprehensive sustainability assessment carried out by an in-dependent party.
Legal protection for people – instead of privileged right of action for corporations:
We reject international corporations being awarded their own special rights to take action against governments. So-called investor-state dispute settlement undermines fundamental principles of the rule of law.
Maintaining and extending European environmental policy instead of subordinating it to the logic of free trade:
Core climate and environmental principles as formulated in Rio in 1992 include the precautionary and the polluter-pays principles. These principles are part of European environmental legislation. If risks emanate from products or technologies, they have to be prevented as a matter of precaution. But in TTIP, under pressure from US export interests, already existing and planned regulations following these principles are to be declared trade obstacles. What is a particular thorn in the flesh of US lobbying groups is what they regard as too much time taken to have products licensed and the labelling of genetically engineered food in Europe. But the further development of the EU directive on chemicals REACh and the EURO standards for automobile emission values as well as the EU strategy to limit the environmen-tal hazards caused by plastics also run counter to the US export interests.
Therefore, the precautionary principle has to be observed in taking political decisions in all circumstances. This applies in particular to risky technologies such as gas extraction by fracking, which requires huge areas and huge amounts of water, poses new threats to groundwater and in addition runs counter to the politically adopted cli-mate protection goals.
We need a both climate and natural resource-friendly and fairer economy on both sides of the Atlantic. This requires regulatory bans as well as taxes and tariffs for particularly harmful processes. Such an approach is irreconcilable with the TTIP free trade logic. The lowest stand-ards must not become the guiding principle.
Protecting rural and environmentally compatible agriculture:
TTIP offers farmers and consumers in Europe no advantages. Creating more trade is just a subordinate goal of TTIP. Its main objective is to enable agro-industry to assert industrial standards on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, in the USA, it is permitted to sell cloned and hormone meat, as well as the milk of cows that are being treated with genetically produced growth hormones. In the USA, poultry meat is chlorinated, and there is neither an across-the-board, stringent licensing procedure for genetically modified plants nor a labelling requirement. Genetically modified salmon is about to be permitted. There are many differences between the two trade zones in terms of patent and liability legislation. It is highly probable that all these topics are on the secret list of items to be negotiated. Instead of even more “growth or backing down”, it is essential to protect rural and organic farming. Rural and forward-looking agriculture needs a balanced trade system that considers farmers’ interests instead of pandering to the interests of agro-industry.
High consumer and health standards:
The more stringent European standards are non-negotiable. They must be neither lowered nor undermined by a mutual recognition of US-American and European standards. In addition, a comprehensive duty to label contents and manufacturing and treatment methods is a mandatory re-quirement – also for processed products.
Employee and human rights
have to be protected on a binding basis by straightforward and enforceable rights. TTIP is presented to the public as a motor for job creation, whereas already existing free trade agreements, such as the NAFTA agreement between the USA, Canada and Mexico, tend to have the opposite effect. Trade unions complain of job losses in industry, falling wages, the undermining of minimum labour standards and growing income disparities as a result of free trade through labour standards being adjusted to the respective lower level. In the EU, mass unemployment, pressure on wages and the spread of precarious employment are the result of weak social standards in the liberalised Single Market. This cannot serve as a model for a transatlantic free trade zone.
International solidarity and co-operation
instead of more and more competitive pressure. The EU and the USA are seeking to secure their global dominance with TTIP. Emerging economies and developing countries are supposed to lose market shares through the agreement. This undermines development co-operation.Protection and extension of public services instead of a further deregulation offensive. Essential services e.g. in the fields of education, health, water, energy or transport must not be privatised. They have to be accessible for all and meet high qualitative, social and environmental policy standards. The TTIP negotiations threaten to further curb the scope for development that this requires at national and local community level – more pressure to privatise has to be reckoned with.
Protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions instead of further liberalisation.
For example, the UNESCO Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions safeguards the promotion of films, theatres, orchestras and other cultural areas as well as public service broadcasting via its country programmes. This scope of action is called into question by the TTIP negotiations.
Regulating the financial sector and eliminating economic imbalances
instead of more deregulation and free trade. The deregulation of financial markets as well as economic imbalances within the EU owing to wage competition and free trade are one of the chief causes of Europe’s economic crisis. TTIP is meant to further deregulate financial services. The political power of financial industry would be strengthened, and the result would be wage and tax dumping, and hence falling revenue for the public budgets.
Innovation, education and freedom of information
instead of even more exclusive rights to corporate “intellectual property”. “Intellectual property” that can be protected is to be found in many sectors, ranging from technologies and pharmaceutical products through seed to films and music. Under the pretext of protecting the creators, the users of culture and information are being patronised more and more by major publishing firms, labels and media corporations. Science, the humanities and education are inhibited, and more and more works are abandoned or disappear forever because their digitalisation is not authorised. We need a fair balance of interests between originators, users and administrators! In 2012, the ACTA agreement was stopped by a wave of public indignation – it would have granted media indus-try comprehensive monopoly rights and control of the Internet. TTIP is a new attempt to introduce these monopoly rights.
Strengthening regional economic cycles:
The EU is pressing for a far-reaching deregulation of public pro-curement and seeks to eliminate the regulations regarding local procurement of many US States or municipalities. This would also be a threat to European regulations on sustainable or regional procurement. Options have to remain to strengthen one’s own region or to take social and ecological objectives into account in public procurement.
We therefore call on all people and organisations who are interested to actively participate in the debate on this new agreement!
Together with our friends in Eu-rope and the USA, we have to show the politicians and captains of industry and business that twentieth-century recipes for free trade and investor protection are no solu-tion to the current challenges. A transatlantic partnership for socio-ecological transformation, which is what we need so urgently in the twenty-first century, looks very dif-ferent!
Opposition to this planned agreement is also developing in the USA and other EU countries – we can stop it if we join forces!
In September 2014 the European Commission refused to register the European Citizens Initiative 'Stop TTIP'. Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that the refusal had no legal basis.
Der EuG hat heute zur Ablehnung der EBI Stop TTIP in 2014 geurteilt:
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