Edinburgh takes stand against TTIP's corporate takeover


26 June 2015

I’m delighted that Edinburgh Council has today unanimously approved my motion to highlight the threat to local services from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Protocol, or TTIP for short. I won’t go into long detail about the problems with TTIP – the work of Global Justice Now and Unison amongst others has done that admirably. And this morning’s council meeting heard from Liz Murray from Global Justice Now Scotland and Amy McNeese-Mechan from Unison in some detail on the threats that TTIP poses.

But I am glad that Edinburgh has joined councils from around the UK and across Europe in ringing the alarm bells about the potential impact of this treaty on local services, environmental protection, labour rights and above all, on local democracy.

We don’t know all we should know about TTIP, because the negotiations between the EU and the USA have been shrouded in secrecy, but what we do know should send shivers down the spine of all who value democracy.

Because that’s an essential element of TTIP – it takes decision making away from democratically elected and accountable councils and governments, and puts it in the hands of unelected and unaccountable multinational companies and their well-paid lawyers. Through the notorious Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process, corporations can take governments to court if they consider that public policy positions have led to a lack of corporate profits.

In practice, this has meant the Canadian Government being taken to court by Exxon Mobil over clauses in some public sector contracts encouraging local employment, and the Venezuelan Government being taken to court over health messages on cigarette packaging.

In Edinburgh, we are proud of initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee which aims to ensure employment or training for school leavers. Likewise the Edible Edinburgh initiative aims to encourage local and seasonal food. These are just two of the possible targets from corporate lawyers if TTIP goes through unchallenged.

So I’m glad that Edinburgh Council’s decision today is helping to ring the alarm bell over TTIP. I hope more councils will join us in standing up for local democracy and against corporate takeover.

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