Crisis point for TTIP as Cameron is summoned to Brussels by Big Business
18 December 2014
Cameron is meeting in Brussels today alongside other European heads of state in a meeting convened by the Confederation for British Industry (CBI). The financial press has been widely reporting that TTIP negotiations have been caught on the backfoot by the strength of opposition, which is why we’re seeing such coordinated pushback, like the letter from heads of business across Europe in the FT today. And by the fact that there's a need for Cameron and business elites to convene with the aim of putting ‘rocket boosters’ under the beleaguered trade deal.
This is testament to the success of concerted efforts across Europe by trade unions, environmentalists, and trade justice campaigners in raising real concerns about the impacts the deal could have. Over a million people voiced their opposition in a ‘European Citizen’s Initiative’ calling on the deal to be scrapped. A public consultation on the controversial ISDS mechanism in TTIP was so overwhelmed by negative responses that it was forced to delay the publication of the results until the new year.
What is telling about this meeting is that the heads of state are being so responsive and accommodating to Big Business, and in doing so emphazing in whose benefit this trade deal is being brokered. It's impossible to conceive of a similar situation in which public-interest groups could command the attention of so many poplitical leaders to voice their concerns on an issue like TTIP. As with all free trade agreements based on a neoliberal economic agenda, there will be huge benefits for the top 1% or so of society, while the vast majority of people will instead suffer consequences.
The much-quoted impact assessment from the European Commission showing increased growth and more jobs has been heavily criticised for relying on unrealistic assumptions in its modelling, for example that all markets are perfectly competitive, efficient and in equilibrium (that is, that there's a buyer for every product or service, including labour) and that those forced out of uncompetitive industries will immediately be reallocated jobs.
In the real world some business sectors may gain, but others will certainly lose, and the CBI admitted recently that it has not done an analysis of where those losses and gains may be for British business from TTIP. While undoubtedly a small minority of business elites will benefit from TTIP, the majority of us will almost certainly lose out from the social costs of the huge downward pressure from TTIP on the non-tariff barriers (which is what TTIP is really about) such as public health and security, consumer protection, social and environmental regulations.
In February we're taking a big group of people on the Eurostar to Brussels for the next round of TTIP negotiations, to protest, lobby their MEPs and meet other TTIP activists from all over Europe. Find out more here.