TTIP: Why aren’t more people offended by Westminster and the European Commission’s supercilious attitude to our concerns?

12/07/2014 - Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP - Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London [Image: Huffington Post].

12/07/2014 – Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London [Image: Huffington Post].

There seems to have been a little public activity in opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Hooray!

All over Europe, according to the mainstream media (who seem to have woken up and paid attention for a change), people have been out on the streets protesting against the plan to streamline (it says here) regulation of trade between the EU and the USA in order to boost trade for both sides.

We all know the arguments against it – standards will drop to the lowest common denominator rather than the highest; privatisation of services is built into the agreement and corporations will sue national governments who use their sovereign powers to change conditions (like re-nationalising privatised services), thus endangering corporate profits.

The most interesting parts of the BBC’s story come towards the very end, where Tom Burke, from environmental organisation e3g was predicted to tell Foreign Office minister Amber Rudd that “the deal will be unacceptable unless it guarantees that the highest possible standards will always apply”.

The article quotes Health minister Earl Howe, defending against fears that TTIP will “lock in” the privatisation of NHS services. He assures us that we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about it because “it would not be in the interest of British pharmaceutical firms to exclude health from the negotiations as they currently face trade barriers in the US”.

So their interests are more important than those of everybody else in the UK, are they?

If you think that was condescending, the European Commission has gone further, saying the concerns are misplaced because TTIP “could have no impact on the UK’s sovereign right to make changes to the NHS.”

That’s nice. But will it appear in writing on the partnership agreement? If not, the Commission’s words are meaningless.

Over in the Huffington Post, trade minister Lord Livingston “said that TTIP talks ‘can’t be sacrificed by misinformation and scare stories’.”

He then went on to provide no evidence that any of the claims about TTIP were misinformed. “Blogging on the Huffington Post UK, he said: ‘Huge numbers of people and many consumer groups as well as business organisations would like to see the TTIP negotiations succeed. Which? can clearly see the benefits it will bring consumers. The Federation of Small Businesses backs it, welcoming the help it will give members to access huge new markets. The Confederation of British Industry, and many, many more are rooting for this deal. And you should be too, for the £10 billion it could add to the UK economy each year.'”

Except the experience of nations like Mexico is that the benefit goes disproportionately to the United States, rather than anywhere else.

So when the HuffPost states that “business secretary Vince Cable recently warned that the United States would ‘simply push ahead’ with trade talks with Asian economies if TTIP negotiations fail,” the logical response is to say “More fool them” if they take up the offer!

Cable, look the damn fool he turned out to be, went on to say: “The only sense in which this is in any way relevant is that its design, as in the European single market, is to ensure that procurement is on a non-discriminatory basis. All that is envisaged for the health service is that principle of non-discrimination is extended.”

So discrimination in favour of what’s best for the patient is a bad thing, is it? But this agreement will merrily discriminate in favour of what’s best for money-grubbing, profit-making parasites like the pharma companies mentioned by Earl Howe – who already charge far too much for their pills and potions, from a captive market.

The attitude of all these assembled bigwigs beggars belief. They don’t care if 400 protests took place today, or 400,000. As far as they’re concerned, TTIP is for them, not us. It’s about making things as cheaply as possible (by cutting safety standards and exploiting the workforce) and selling them as profitably as possible (to the exploited workforce who’ll have been paid too little to afford most of it).

They know they’ll have us over a barrel as soon as the ink is dry because even if some of us boycott products that are made and sold as a result of the agreement, most people won’t – not because they don’t want it but because they won’t believe they have any choice.

That’s why this agreement – as it stands – is no good. If it was an agreement to enforce the highest standards possible, it would be a different matter.

Would Earl Howe support that? Would Lord Livingston? Would Cable?

Have a wild guess.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Mark Potter-Irwin October 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Did a bit of leafleting outside Oban Tescos for this…….1 out of 5 would take a leaflet! Fear is what “They” want, and from my experience, that is what they have got. God help us all!
    Republic v Democracy…interesting…….

  2. Mr.Angry October 12, 2014 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Great article Mike I also dished out leaflets at our Tesco in Ruthin and like wise many knew nothing about it, why all the secrecy if it’s for the public’s good one wonders !!!!!!!!

  3. casalealex October 12, 2014 at 9:52 am - Reply

    “EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few corporations. People who are affected by these deals, both in the EU and abroad, are not consulted. We need MEPs to stand up for an open and democratic EU trade policy-making process, controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than driven by unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups,” said Pia Eberhardt, from Corporate Europe Observatory, based in Brussels.

    In response to that concern, the 193 agreed to endorse the first and core proposal of the Alternative Trade Mandate : the full transparency regarding trade and investment negotiations, and the integral publication of all the documents and texts by the DG Trade.
    As exposed through the plans for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU, investment protection clauses are also highly criticized by civil society organizations, since they could deprive states and public authorities from the capacity to enforce regulations and laws protecting public interest. In order to neutralize this threat, the candidates have been asked to oppose the inclusion of ISDS provisions in EU trade agreements. 

  4. amnesiaclinic October 12, 2014 at 11:00 am - Reply

    We had about a dozen valiant people giving out leaflets throughout Leominster yesterday which was great. It is very sad that there were no young people who would even take a leaflet let alone know what it was all about. There were quite a few older people who were clued up but a common response was anything to do with the EU was bad and they were against it. This seems to be where UKIP jump in – knee jerk reaction against the EU so we are for it. So sad.

    Noticeable that all of the valiant volunteers were of a certain age. We will not be around for ever. How, how to get the young and others involved??

  5. Florence October 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    I wondered why Which? had employed a former Tory think-tank leading light…………

  6. Jono October 13, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Let’s for a moment set aside all of the arguments (which I agree with) about British sovereignty and address the supposed ‘pros’ Vince Cable is so eager to tout.

    Arguing for a European common market makes sense, mainly because we are one of the strongest economies in Europe, so when US firms want to access the European market, we are a good place to set up shop. Unlike UKIP supporters, I don’t believe Britain on its own is a big enough market to warrant companies to invest specifically in Britain to access that market (though some obviously would). They’d probably invest in bigger markets next door like the EU and just put up with the trade barriers. In the EU we are essentially in competition with the rest of Europe to secure outside investment, and therefore jobs and prosperity. If we now have a trade deal with the US to effectively make a transatlantic common market, why would US firms bother setting up in Britain when they can stay at home and still access the EU market? Free trade deals make sense when you’re making them with a weaker party. Making free trade deals with a stronger economy, especially one with simillar living standards, so you don’t even have the advantage of cheaper labour, is ultimately going to screw you over, because you end up removing America from the outside investment you’re competing for, whilst simultaneously adding America to your list of competitors. Companies from India, China, Japan, Australia, Brazil etc. who now have to invest in EU countries to access the EU common market, could invest in America, and still access the EU common market. On top of that, if you include clauses which prevent subsidisation of new British born industries, then you are going to become even more reliant on outside investment. Don’t get me wrong, competition between equally matched teams is good for improving their performance, and I think a lot of the proTTIP people are seeing it as the EU and America being on equal footing, but of course the USA is a country and the EU is not. It’s nice that Vince is so optimistic about our competitiveness that he thinks we can outcompete America, but personally I think it’s a bit misguided.

  7. Jeffrey Davies October 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    australia 4court cases one lost three still pending yes a cigy company taking the aussies to court over they way they wanted to go its seems words are just like those passing clouds jeff3

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