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20 November 2014

Despite their own doubts, EU governments press ahead with TTIP

Council statement due on November 21 highlights unanimous support of European governments

Simon McKeagney, Editor

A public statement on the TTIP talks, due for release by the Council this Friday (21st) reaffirms the support European government have for a “deep, ambitious” TTIP. An advance copy of the final text (below) outlines, in strong language, that TTIP is “fundamental” for jobs and growth, despite evidence indicating the opposite.

But what is perhaps more revealing is the reasoning behind producing a statement in the first place. Figuring out their rationale leads us to ask a key question: are EU governments so unsure about the negotiations now that they feel the need to reassure even themselves?

The reiteration of a former commitment for a comprehensive deal serves no one, but it does highlight the current psyche of EU leaders on TTIP. On one side they’re increasingly coming under pressure from citizens over the Pandora’s box of issues TTIP has unleashed. On the other side, the political capital used in agreeing to TTIP in the first place, as well as their ties with the US, have caught them in a TTIP-bind. If anything, their statement reveals doubt, not certainty.

‘Better communication’

The statement also claims that communication is the main problem with TTIP! It highlights the need to "better communicate the scope and the benefits of the agreement”, something that might explain Cameron’s “rocket-boosters” comment at the G20 summit last weekend. But this week has also shown growing doubts behind the communications spin. The new agriculture Commissioner expressed his skepticism on TTIP over food standards, and there are claims the French government won't sign TTIP if it includes investor privileges. There are a lot more problems with the deal than just ‘communication’, and EU leaders know this.

Finally, a nugget of new information is the understanding that EU leaders are finally noticing that transparency and civil society’s concerns are genuine issues that can no longer be ignored. The statement notes the importance of enhancing “transparency and dialogue with civil society in order to highlight the benefits for European citizens.” So it is at least good to know that the many civil society based actions, such as the self-organised ECI on TTIP, which is just on the cusp of hitting 1 million signatures, may actually be getting through to EU leaders, despite their strong reaffirmations of continued support. 

FULL TEXT: European Council, Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) statement on TTIP

 

Trade Policy Committee

m.d. : 

393/14

source :

IT Presidency

for : 

Endorsement

date :  

17 - 11 - 2014

 

FAC Trade Conclusions on TTIP

 

1. Enhancing sustainable growth and jobs is a key priority for the EU. Trade in goods and services and investment can make a significant contribution in this respect. In this context, the Council reiterates the fundamental role of a deep, ambitious, balanced and mutually beneficial TTIP Agreement with the United States, which will provide significant new opportunities for citizens and companies in the EU and the US. This will help boost job creation and economic growth by enhancing trade and investment between the two sides of the Atlantic, while ensuring our right to regulate and maintaining a high level of standards consistent with the EU acquis and Member States’ legislation. The Council also recognises the importance of TTIP as a strategic cornerstone of our transatlantic partnership, which will make a valuable contribution to shaping globalisation and the international trading system and to supporting sustainable development.

2. The Council underlines the importance to better communicate the scope and the benefits of the agreement and to enhance transparency and dialogue with civil society in order to highlight the benefits for European citizens and the opportunities it would create for EU companies, in particular small and medium sized businesses. The Council underlines the importance of maintaining the positive efforts undertaken so far and the need to approach the US side to discuss meaningful possibilities to improve transparency, including the access to all negotiating documents in order to let Member States develop constructive discussions with civil society.

3. The Council reconfirms its strong expectation of concluding a deep, ambitious, balanced and mutually beneficial agreement on all three pillars of the negotiations as soon as feasible, according to the Council mandate. To achieve this aim, it is essential to have clear and strong political support for the negotiations by both parties which will boost TTIP talks and facilitate the conclusion of the agreement according to a positive timeline.

 

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George Farmer

TTIP must never be signed. Any legislation that relies upon secrete courts is totally undemocratic. Every action must be able to be scrutinised by the electorate. The only possible excuse for secrecy would be national security never trade deals or the management of trade deals. There can be no way that it is acceptable for a corporate body to sue a national government in secret. No way can this agreement be signed without the authority of the electorate. It is as important as membership of the EU. So a referendum will be necessary to ensure that democratic responsibility is preserved

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