What is TTIP?
TTIP, The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. Amongst its provisions it would allow tribunals of commercial lawyers to rule laws on things like safety, environmental protection and workers’ rights illegal and award billions of pounds’ compensation to foreign, and only foreign, companies.
Opposing TTIP shouldn’t make you a Eurosceptic
Greens have been at the forefront of campaigns to oppose TTIP. Its proponents claim the agreement will ‘unlock’ EU-US trade potential by getting rid of so-called ‘barriers to trade’. However, these are often regulations which protect social, environmental and labour standards or the provision of health and other public services. The negative impacts of TTIP are likely to be wide-ranging. There is particular concern over the impact on jobs and the NHS.
So is TTIP a good reason for leaving the EU? We say No!
TTIP is in negotiation as it commands political support amongst governments and political leaders across the EU and US. Progressing TTIP was a UK General Election Tory manifesto pledge. They want to take Britain into TTIP regardless of whether or not we are inside or outside the EU. Free-market Eurosceptics believe Britain will be able to negotiate with the US as equal partners in a bi-lateral UK-US trade deal – this is extremely unlikely. If TTIP goes ahead it is more probable a UK outside the EU would ask to join TTIP as an additional signatory once the deal is completed. The EU-wide anti-TTIP movement has grown in recent years, with over 3.3 million EU citizens signing an initiative to block it. This movement will be weakened by a UK exit, inevitably putting UK anti-TTIP campaigners at the margins on the issue.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement – a threat to democracy.
TTIP’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism is rightly maligned. ISDS allows investors to sue governments in private tribunals outside national legal systems, and can exert a ‘chilling effect’ which undermines the introduction of progressive legislation. There is an ongoing battle over its inclusion in TTIP.ISDS mechanisms are routinely built into trade agreements, including many agreed by the UK. There is a particular concern in the UK ISDS will quicken the unpopular creeping privatisation of the NHS. The problems with ISDS go far beyond TTIP or the EU, and Greens, like other trade justice campaigners, want ISDS stripped from all trade agreements, not just TTIP.
The secrecy of the TTIP negotiations is opposed by Greens and others concerned about transparency and trade justice. Following the efforts of engaged MEPs, campaigners and a better informed public, ISDS is seriously contested and could be taken out of the agreement.
Greens want justice in all trade agreements. This also means safeguarding democracy and the rule of law..
These political battles won’t be advanced by the UK leaving the EU. The lesson from TTIP, and the powerful transnational corporations it will benefit, is we need to stand firmly together to tackle the underlying issues, not become divided and leave the fight to others.