TTIP media - from blackout to splurge


19 November 2014

While Cameron was wishing for "rocketboosters" to strap on to the beleagured TTIP trade deal, last week saw a whole host of critical voices cropping up in the press.

It started in the Financial Times, where Nick Dearden responded to accusations that TTIP opponents were propigating 'irrational fears' by pointing out that:

Even the most vocal proponents of free trade admit that there’s nothing irrational about opposing such big issues of public policy being traded off behind closed doors.

A few days later, a swathe of trade union representatives and civil spociety groups announced in the Guardian that they were taking the European Commission to court over its refusal to follow due process in holding a European Citizen's Initiative to review the Commission's stance on the trade deal.

The TTIP threatens public services, environmental and food protection, workers’ rights and online privacy. The commission refused to sanction even the collection of signatures... We call once more for the TTIP to be stopped, for transparency in trade negotiations and for the EU bureaucracy to start listening to its citizens.

In Scotland, Liz Murray from WDM Scotland had some warning words for Nicola Sturgeon, the incoming leader of the SNP as to why she should be adopting a more critical stance on TTIP, pointing out that,

TTIP could threaten the authority of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament to freely exercise their power... It's a transfer of power away from government to big business on a scale that has not been seen before.

Cameron's G20 TTIP promotion has been interpreted as being defensive in the face of all the protests, petitions and political discontent that has been taking place in Europe over TTIP. The day after Cameron's speech in Brisbane took place, France announced that it wouldn't be signing the treaty in 2015 if it contained the controversial Investor State Disupte Settlement (ISDS) mechanism that would corporations to sue governments for introducing legislation that might be beneficial to ordinary people (eg labour or environmental regualtions) but that could impact corporate profits.

So Cameron's words about needing to take on the unions over TTIP seemed to provoke a whole new round of opposition. In a letter in the Independent, Polly Jones, the head of campaigns and policy at WDM wrote:

While Cameron claims that the deal could enhance food and environmental standards, not everyone in his party agrees with him. Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has said he finds it “hard to imagine that the process will involve any key standards going up. On the contrary, I suspect that we will see a spiral downwards. The £10bn benefit that Cameron claims TTIP will bring to the economy is based on research that has been widely criticised. A more recent peer-reviewed study from Tufts University has suggested that the deal could bring about the loss of more  than half a million jobs across Europe on top  of lower wage growth  and exports.

In the Evening Standard Labour MP Geraint Davies wrote:

We face the risk of a one-way street towards privatisation and sacrifice of quality, public health and shared environment on the altar of cheaper prices.I have moved a Bill to enshrine transparency in the UK and European Parliaments over trade deals so we go forward with our eyes open. Let’s not hurtle ahead into a pile-up because Dave has steamed up the windscreen with his excitement.

We wrote before how Labour appears to have taken a turn for the worse in it's attitude towards TTIP, so it was heartening to see that at least some individual MPs seem to realize the extent to which the deal would enshrine corporate power at the expense of democracy. Similarly, tomorrow will see the first Commons debate of Eltham MP Clive Efford’s bill to save the NHS from irreversible privatisation, including a section that seeks to exempt the NHS from TTIP.

It's not too late for you to contact your MP to support this bill.

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