Explained: The EU vote that could set corporations above countries. But do you care?


Note: This article is aimed at people whose response to TTIP (and other serious issues) is to ignore it and hope it will go away. If you are not one of these people, please share this article with someone who is.

Details have emerged about the vote in the European Parliament on the secret EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will affect UK citizens so harshly – but which gathered very little interest from any of you last week.

The European Parliament voted by a majority of 436 to 241, effectively to allow the deal to go ahead – ignoring repeated and widespread protest from their own constituents, according to Lee Williams in The Independent.

TTIP is about reducing and removing regulations that hamper trade – but protect the public and the environment. Once it is in place, you can expect to eat growth hormones in your beef that have been linked to cancer, your cosmetics will be filled with formerly-banned chemicals, GM foods (copyrighted by the firms that created them) will be forced onto your plate and pesticides will be filled with endocrine disruptors that can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects and other developmental disorders.

Critics have pointed out that the deal would lock privatisation into the UK’s National Health Service, meaning your treatment for any of the disorders created by these profitable enterprises would vary in effectiveness, depending on where you live. Once the deal is signed, there will be no way to ensure that we all receive a high standard of care; no UK government minister has any duty to provide it.

Are you interested now? Or is it still not worth worrying your pretty little head about it?

Fortunately for you, many other people have been working hard on your behalf. Unfortunately, your representatives in the European Union are doing all they can to silence this dissent. But that’s nothing to do with you either, one supposes.

The European Commission’s public consultation on one of the most controversial parts of TTIP – the Investor-State Dispute Settlement section that would allow corporations to sue nation states if legislation was passed that might restrict profits – received a resounding no from a staggering 97 per cent of respondents – but this was ignored.

A European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP currently stands at over 2,300,000 signatures, but has been dismissed as “illegitimate” by the unelected European Commission.

If the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system is included in the deal, there will be nothing you can do to prevent fracking or phase out nuclear power. Look at the Australian court case on limiting cigarette advertising for a current example.

Lots of you say you oppose fracking. Why aren’t you interested in this?

And commentators say the vote was rigged by some creative procedural changes from EU President Martin Schulz, meaning nobody voted on a plan to cut ISDS from the deal altogether, while a watered-down ISDS scheme won MEPs’ approval.

What happened on Wednesday was proof that democracy has no power in the European Union and big business trumps the rights of citizens.

But you’re not bothered, are you?

Tell you what – you go back to watching Coronation Street, Britain’s Got Talent, or the media anaesthetic of your choice. Enjoy a game of Criminal Case.

Leave the heavy lifting to those of us who actually care about our health, the environment and democracy. There aren’t enough of us but obviously you’re more interested in other things.

Just remember, when the deal is in place and there’s nothing you can do:

You had a chance to stop it.

But you couldn’t be bothered.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Jim Round July 11, 2015 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Welcome to the world cica 2015.

  2. FibbingIsARationalResponse July 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    For those who do want to do something, 38 degrees have long been active against it and have a few related campaigns going on https://home.38degrees.org.uk/?s=ttip

  3. Neilth July 11, 2015 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I sense you’re not happy Mike. Perhaps it’s a little early to throw your toys out of the pram. Of course opposing TTIP is vital to future democracy. Of course if TTIP comes in then we may as well wave bye bye to the NHS cos they’ll sell off the ‘profitable’ bits to US Big Pharma who can then run it down; to the benefit of their own private medicine facilities which will be the only alternative. Leaving a poor quality overburdened run down service for those who can’t buy their medical care -um just like they’ve got in the U.S. Which comes fourth in all measures (except cost) when compared with Canada, Cuba and even Mexico.

    The reason more people aren’t screaming in terror at the thought of TTIP is cos most have never heard of it and of those who have, many don’t fully understand it nor the wider implications.

    The reasons for this lack of understanding are many fold. They include:

    “It’s a EU thing so not a UK problem” the number of people who think that the EU only affects how straight our cucumbers are is astounding.

    Those who stand to profit most from TTIP are also those who have major investments in eg the tabloid press and other means of communication. It suits them not to warn us of the dreadful dangers that are inevitable if TTIP is introduced.

    Many people just don’t care. They are “fed up with politics” and there’s “nothing they can do about it anyway.” This is a general international malaise consequential on the general poor behaviour by some politicians highlighted in the national press in recent years. The few major examples of apparently and allegedly corrupt behaviour (duck houses and moats for gods sake) have not helped the general opinion of politicians and politics. Hence the rise of the anti politics of UKIP, or at least that’s the picture Farage has tried to paint. Sadly, again, the majority seem to have bought in to this.

    As an active party member I hear more and more often “I’m not interested in politics, it doesn’t affect me”. This is a huge problem for the country as a whole and blame for this attitude can be laid directly at the door of “The Media” which do nothing to explain the importance of decision making in everyone’s lives.

    It is to the benefit of the ruling classes to have an ignorant, ill educated proletariat (apparently we can’t call them working classes anymore). If you don’t know or understand then you can’t question.

    I’m sure there are many other factors in why we aren’t engaging people in the debate about TTIP, it looks totally boring on first glance, and contributors can up with a host of other reasons

    Mike, you’re quite right, we need to raise the profile of this issue as a matter of urgency though without access to most of the mainstream media it’s hard to see how.

    Sadly there’s a real danger of this legislation going through because the electorate has taken its collective eye off the ball

    • Mike Sivier July 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      This was not a ‘toys out of the pram’ moment – but it was a wake-up call.
      That vote was very important because it signalled the EU Parliament’s intent to let the deal go ahead with minimal changes – thereby screwing anybody who doesn’t own, or own shares in, a multinational corporation.
      You’d think more people would have an opinion on that.

      • penniewoodfall July 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm - Reply

        ‘Toys out of the pram’ moment’ Dear God!
        You are right Mike ……unfortunately, most people do not wake up until they hurt….Revolution any one?

    • lallygag26 July 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Can I just say that the TTIP won’t create the opportunity for foreign companies to buy up contracts in the NHS. That has happened already. It will lock them in and make taking it back into public ownership impossible.
      U.S. and global giant United Health were at the forefront of lobbying for the use of trade agreements under the WTO and GATS rules to prise open public health sectors across the world. They were, in short, prime movers behind the creation of the TTIP. At the time United Health’s Preseident of global operations and chief frontman for the lobby group was a certain Simon Stevens, previously health adviser to Tony Blair when Labour was in government……
      …..and since last April CEO of NHS England, appointed by the Tories.
      United Health and its subsidiary Optum do rather well out of NHS contracts, I believe.
      There’s a long list of other global private health companies who have already taken out a bite of the NHS. All hidden behind the logo, of course, so as not to worry the public.

  4. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) July 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mike for trying to get people to wake up before it is too late. Sadly, as in the case of the last election, so many are apathetic and don’t pull their weight, leaving the thinking and action to others and then grumble at the results which they could so easily have changed.

    PS., A not very pretty BIG HEAD!

  5. Ian Buchan July 11, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    I did care enough to act I hope with many others!

  6. JohnDee July 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Hear, hear, Mike!

    A very detailed report of just how bad TTIP is and why – and what areas of our lives (most) will be affected, is available for download from the Seattle to Brussels Network, titled ‘A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership’ – but you’ll need more than the attention span of a ‘Strictly..’ episode to get through it.

    But it definitely contains plenty of information to counter the “I don’t care – I’m not interested in politics” attitude of most sheeple.


    Print it out, read it, show and discuss it with as many people you can. There’s at least half a dozen issues to scare the sh*t out of anyone who cares to listen.

  7. Michael Broadhurst July 11, 2015 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    i agree with everything you say Mike.i was in on the start of this with 38 degrees.
    is there any way we could find out if those MEPS who voted for it have vested interests in any of the companies involved,if not other countries MEPS,surely we could find out about our own MEPS.

    • Mike Sivier July 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      All UK parties apart from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats voted against TTIP.
      That should narrow the focus down a little.

  8. Pam Sanby July 11, 2015 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I’ve been signing petitions, writing to MEP’s and even writing to my own MP. Not that he does anything but toe the party line and write patronising emails in reply! I feel so disheartened and sometimes I feel like giving up. I’m in so much pain and I keep becoming manic because I’m due another WCA this year that I sometimes wonder why I bother when nobody else much does! But I won’t give in (as long as I’m not psychotic) because I want this world to be better when I leave it than it is now! Like you I’m getting sick of people blindly following the sheep in front. They’ll fall over the cliff one day! But I’ll keep sharing articles and doing the best I can to demonstrate just how bad TTIP is, amongst other things! I’m too disabled to go to a demo, but I do as much as my body allows! I just would like to see at least one of my Facebook friends who doesn’t give a hoot to read the articles and sign the petitions etc, then I wouldn’t feel like I’m bashing my head against a brick wall!

    • penniewoodfall July 11, 2015 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      You are not alone Pam Sanby…….We are all fighting….do not give in. We do not need bashed in heads…grin

  9. Guy Ropes July 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    The reason why nothing can be done is because of the EU itself. They wanted to do it – behind closed doors and in secret and they got their way. Why do you expect to be able to ‘do’ anything about it or anyone else for that matter. Labour wanted nothing to do with ‘change’ in the EU (they wanted no part of a referendum) and wanted no change to the influx of ‘immigrants’ – until they wanted votes (in this case in the Labour leadership election). Andy Burnham then said, when he realised there was probably votes in advocating change on immigration, that yeh!, let’s stop absolutely unlimited immigration (from the EU) to the UK. No one, including Labour know what they do want in respect of Europe. But they’ll cheer crooks like Juncker who master minded tax evasion rules for big business in Luxembourg and arrested any whistleblower who had the temerity to reveal the details. What nice people you like to align yourselves to. But then if anyone couldn’t see that the EU construct was a con trick from the word ‘go’ deserves everything that your gullibility gets us. My grandson will not thank you. PS I’m not sure that you’re correct in suggesting that Labour MEPs voted against TTIP. Or did they just vote against the perfectly reasonable appeals system.? I’ll stand corrected.

  10. Dave Rowlands July 12, 2015 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Quote: “received a resounding no from a staggering 97 per cent of respondents – but this was ignored.

    A European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP currently stands at over 2,300,000 signatures, but has been dismissed as “illegitimate” by the unelected European Commission.”

    So my vote was ignored and dismissed as illegitimate, what else am I supposed to do if everything we do is thrown aside by those in power?

  11. val.b July 12, 2015 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Mike, your article is spirited and plucky and i love it! It reminds me me of the one you did about the Newark by-election.
    Pretty much agree with everything your commentator, Neilth has eloquently expressed.
    Just like to add that the neoliberalism we are experiencing is overwhelming and is giving us so much to challenge and question in practically all walks of life. Those directly affected are weary and literally struggling to survive. Those fortunate enough not to feel the effects have yet to wake up and smell the coffee. Hence the importance of your article and the reasons for sharing. I also have supported the 38 Degrees campaign.

  12. sally July 12, 2015 at 10:51 am - Reply

    I’m as frustrated and angry as anyone else who really understands what TTIP means. It’s an express train to corportocracy and exploitation of absolutely everything that might obstruct corporate interests, growth and profit: humans, all other creatures and even the environment will suffer and once implemented there is very little chance of turning back the page.
    Whenever the topic has come up or any mention of GDP, job growth, shale gas extraction, job increases, animal welfare, chemicals in foods, or GM foods, or regulation of service sectors -particularly the financial sector or copyright and patents, I’ve taken it as an opportunity to warn people about TTIP and how it will directly affect them, their families, their jobs, health, the environment.
    I’ve left comments and statements all over the internet, links to articles or draft proposals in comments sections. Very few people have responded in any positive way -and of those few who do, (mostly people across the pond) the comment isn’t usually more than a simple acknowledgement; mostly there is no response or discussion at all. One factor in the apathy you so rightly point out Mike, is populations are so chained to the daily grind of staying afloat, they’ve very little reserve to look beyond the immediacy of their own problems of poverty or increasing poverty.
    Aside from the usual and expected jibes to adjust my bako foil headgear or evolve from a Luddite world view, those who think TTIP is a good idea fall back on the false propaganda of job creation (millions!), increased GDP (billions!), more business opportunity (new and improved tech, medical advances, etc etc!), and lastly and most patently untrue, an end to the global economic depression that all these ‘positives’ will bring.
    In general people either don’t realise that TTIP will shackle them and their descendants into a slavery never before envisioned, or they are positioned and poised to take advantage of the exploitative opportunities that TTIP will give them -and they have no concern for anything beyond their own gain. Like most people, I’ve really lost faith that the political class has any interest at all in the opinions of their electorates; the majority, careerist opportunists grasping for another rung on the ladder to the 1% and using the very people whom they are elected to represent and serve as step stools to improve their reach.
    There’s been a shift in the public discourse when talking about politics. Formerly, politicians were elected, now they ‘come to power’; they used to be elected to represent a constituency, now they ‘take or hold seats’. Politicians withhold their views, positions and agendas until after they are elected, rather than present them to their taxpaying employers like any other competing job candidate, and once ensconced are above reproach, accountability or even the very laws they enact for the rest of the population. What I am saying is that there is a deep malignant problem with the political process and those within it; whether there is a mechanism to excise this opportunistic parasitism isn’t clear, but again, populations have been intentionally manipulated into survival mode, the immediacy of their daily lives taking necessary precedence over challenging, confronting and changing what enslaves them to that immediacy. The choice for, or the opposition to TTIP isn’t something that will be put to referendum; those who have the most to gain from its implementation have the deciding vote -whether PM’s, MP’s, or EPM’s-, and the very populations this legislation will affect are merely pawns to that end.

  13. ghost whistler July 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    So what can we do now?

    If these arseholes have voted it in then it really is too late. Even bloody Farage and his lot are (for the most part) against this!

    This si some scary shit and I’ve been following the campaign for a while. My MEP’s are opposed to it, but that doesn’t seem to have been enough.

  14. Dave01 July 14, 2015 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    This is the usual patronising view from people who know more than the rest of us. Face facts most people in this countries history have never been politicised. The closed we got to a revolution in the last 100 years was the General Strike of 1926, the election of 1945, the Miners Strike in 1972 and the riots of the 1981 and possible the Anti-Poll tax movement pioneered by our Scottish cousins. Google them if you don’t remember. Trying to galvanise people is hard enough without using this s**t language.

    The reality is that people have different life priorities and that politics is a minority sport for a few people for most of the time. I should know as I spent year thinking that everyone who “didn’t get it” were just stupid. To galvanise people you have to show them that they should care, that their neighbour cares, that it will hit there kids future and that it will hit them in the pocket.

    I hate patronising politics, I hate the “I’m so f**king smart, you should follow me in everything I say” or “I’m so outraged, why aren’t you?” approach to life.

    Get people onside with actual facts, when will this happen, who is responsible, why I need you and your neighbours help, etcetera. Otherwise this is just another f**king single issue cul-de-sac that will get you us nowhere.

    • Mike Sivier July 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      The article was all about the facts.
      It was also about galvanising people by showing them that they should care.
      Your “Google them if you don’t remember” comment falls well short of the mark – I remember the strikes of the early 1970s, the riots of the 80s and was part of the anti-poll tax movement; and I’m familiar with the historical events you mention.
      Also, if you’re going to complain about the language another person uses, try not to do so with profanity. It only draws attention to the language you are using.

      • Dave01 July 14, 2015 at 1:47 pm - Reply

        I quote “Are you interested now? Or is it still not worth worrying your pretty little head about it?” I would file that under patronising.

        If been swearing since I could talk, and take great pride in my language and culture heritage.

        I don’t think this article will inform one person about the potential problem we face.

        Why no link to the Wikipedia page?


        or this site?


        • Mike Sivier July 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

          The tone was intentionally provocative, in order to get people reacting. It worked on you!
          You’re welcome to your opinion – but you should be aware that this blog has been reporting on TTIP for nearly two years now, since the wider public first started to become aware of it. Any links you mention have probably been covered here before, if not better ones.

          • Dave01 July 14, 2015 at 3:13 pm

            It worked on me for all the wrong reasons.

          • Mike Sivier July 14, 2015 at 3:45 pm

            As long as it worked, I’m not going to worry my pretty little head about it.

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