The European Union’s trade commissioner launched a public consultation on the hugely controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership back in January – as reported in this blog – but has now changed his tune.
After receiving more than 150,000 submissions from EU citizens – raising concerns about proposals to restrict our freedoms in multiple ways – he described the unprecedented response as a “concentrated attack”, according to an email circulated by SumOfUs.org.
Perhaps somebody could send the following message to Mr de Gucht, to help him understand something fairly fundamental about his position:
When hundreds of thousands of people voice opposition to a political plan, that isn’t an attack; it’s called democracy.
Apparently it’s quite a popular concept in Mr de Gucht’s home country of Belgium, where they’ve been struggling to form an effective government since 2007. Perhaps that’s why he seems to have a problem with it…
Mr de Gucht seems keen to forget about his consultation so, faced with this opposition from a man who clearly thought an ill-informed public would support TTIP – or would not care about it – SumOfUs has launched an alliance with more than 150 partner organisations to create a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) calling for TTIP negotiations to be halted.
For this to work, these groups must collect at least one million signatures in seven European countries. The ECI can request a legislative act from the European Commission, repealing the European Union’s negotiating mandate for the Transatlantic Trade Investor Partnership (TTIP) and not concluding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – and can force a hearing at the European Parliament.
At the same time, country-specific quorums must be achieved in at least seven EU member states, with a minimum number of signatures required to achieve that quorum. In the UK, that minimum is 54,750 signatures.
Inevitably there is a price to pay for this kind of democracy and SumOfUs is seeking donations to pay for the two full-time staff who are coordinating the European-wide campaign work, developing a software to collect the signatures online, and planning to print and send thousands of packages with information material and signature lists “so that TTIP is an issue on every market stall in even the remotest village in Slovenia”.
To contribute a quid towards this project, click here.
It might be one of the most important pounds you’ve ever spent.
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