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23 February 2014

TTIP agenda does not represent the kind of transatlantic alliance we want

‘Real risks’ push European Greens to oppose TTIP agenda.

Simon McKeagney, Editor

The European Green Party has become the first political family in Europe to formally oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in its current form.

We believe the deal being negotiated by the European Commission is mired in ‘untrustworthy promises’ that threaten democracy, the public good and the rights of European citizens.

At the Greens Electoral Convention held in Brussels on February 22nd, members from across Europe came together to vote on our common manifesto ahead of the European Elections. But given the importance of the EU-US trade negotiations, a special position paper was passed by an overwhelming majority, rejecting the current form of negotiations and calling for alternatives.

Much More Than Trade

With tariffs between the EU and US already low, the true aim of this deal is the elimination, reduction, or prevention of so called “unnecessary” policies, known as ‘non-tariff trade barriers’. These barriers have been identified by industry groups as part of a list of deregulatory ‘pet requests’ which call for the removal of standards in the financial sector, on agricultural produce, chemicals and many more in both regions.

‘The TTIP agenda as promoted by the EU Commission does not represent the kind of transatlantic alliance that Greens advocate. We do not want a transatlantic alliance that would inevitably be negative for Green standards in the EU.’

The Greens reject any lowering of environmental, consumer, agricultural, food, health, labour, cultural, or data protection standards under TTIP. Companies on both sides of the Atlantic are using this deal to undermine hard fought legislation and policies that are being classed as ‘non-tariff barriers’ regardless of their social or environmental significance. Trade disputes could also see corporations suing European countries who introduce policies that could impact their future profits, under a mechanism called the Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDS).  The Greens reject any agreement that includes ISDS.

Examples of industry interests playing out within the scope of negotiations are many. The US agro-industry’s aggressive lobbying against EU consumer protection standards on Genetically Modified Organisms, US beef, pork and chicken have become key points of interest for US negotiators. On the EU side, European financial institutions want to undercut US standards set by the Dodd-Franks-legislation in the United States. The Greens believe these deregulation attempts are exactly what led us into the current economic crisis, and should be strongly resisted.

Lack of transparency an assault on democracy

TTIP ‘undercuts democratic values’ by disallowing civil society organsations, citizens and their representatives from accessing negotiating texts, while special interest groups ‘get privileged access through some 600 lobbyists.’ For this reason, the European Greens are challenging the legitimacy and content of the negotiations.

We demand a realistic economic analysis, including an environmental and human rights impact assessment. Supporting the “Alternative Trade Mandate” developed by a large group of European NGOs could open up a more promising approach to a common transatlantic strategy, while cooperating on reducing fossil fuel subsides would be highly beneficial.

‘We want to promote a transatlantic cooperation as an integral part of global multilateral cooperation that supports a global Green New Deal, aligning efforts towards a sustainable low carbon economy, social justice, addressing climate change and the over-consumption of resources.’

However, in its current form, TTIP does not deliver any of these core goals, but instead presents ‘too many dangers and risks to be acceptable’.

Building a Coalition: defeat this TTIP agenda

Although the coalition of business voices pushing for TTIP are powerful, the Greens have shown the ability to form alliances and defeat measures which undermine the rights of citizens - as shown with ACTA in 2012. The Greens are therefore committed to building broad coalitions with civil society groups from all sectors to defeat the current TTIP agenda.

Trade unions, consumer groups and defenders of democracy all have a role in ‘safeguarding of standards - which are not trade barriers but the result of explicit legislative choices to protect the people’s interests and the public good.’

This will be a key issue for the Greens during the European elections, and it is essential that bridges are also built across the Atlantic, where citizens are faced with the same worries and concerns. Working with the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue and members of Congress who are vocal on the issue are useful steps. The US Assembly of State Legislators has come out against ISDS, which demonstrates the common aims by many in both the US and EU.

Based on these real risks, and threats to our democracy, our citizens and our core beliefs, the Greens ‘mobilize against any trade agreement that does not honour these principles’. Therefore we oppose TTIP in its current form.

 

 

 

 

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Jacques Berthelot

Please read J Berthelot "The madness to integrate
agriculture into a transatlantic Free Trade Agreement" (http://www.solidarite.asso.fr/Papers-2014) to understand than EU agricultural tariffs are very much higher than in the EU and that there is here a major threat to EU jobs in agriculture and agri-food industries.
I belong to the bureau of the EELV agricultural commission.
Cheers
Jacques B.

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