“No TTIP” Christmas card submitted by singing Santas on behalf of one million
At 5.30pm yesterday (Tuesday 9 December) a cluster of campaigners dressed as Santa Claus presented an over-sized Christmas card to the Department for Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) on behalf of the million people across Europe who had signed a petition calling for the end of controversial trade deals being pushed through between the EU and North America.
As the Santa Clauses sang Christmas carols re-written with lyrics referring to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the giant Christmas card depicting Santa carrying a sack with the #noTTIP hashtag, was presented to the BIS offices.
TTIP and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are trade deals that have been pushed forward by the EU with the USA and Canada respectively. Over the course of 2014 the trade deals have become increasingly contested, with a wide array of politicians, trade unions and civil society groups articulating the threat that the trade deals would pose to vital public services, including the NHS. Critics have also pointed out that the trade deals would give more powers to multinational corporations to sue governments in secret courts for introducing legislation designed to benefit citizens, that might be harmful to the corporations’ profits.
Over a million people across Europe signed the petition calling for TTIP and CETA to be scrapped in the space of just two months. Originally the petition had been intended to be a European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI), which would have legally forced the European Commission to reconsider its position on the trade deals. However in September the Commission prevented the ECI from going ahead. The Stop TTIP coalition launched a court case against the Commission's over decision at the European Court of Justice in November.
Polly Jones, the head of campaigns and policy at the World Development Movement who attended the protest said:
“More than a million people across Europe have voiced their opposition to TTIP because of the threat that it poses to vital public services and to legislation designed to protect labour and environmental standards. These secretive trade deals would deliver an unprecedented amount of power to corporate interests at the expense of taxpayers and of democratic process and they must be stopped.”
The event in London mirrored a parallel event in Brussels on the same day where around 100 campaigners in Brussels from the Stop TTIP coalition submitted a birthday card to Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on the occasion of his 60th birthday, which again symbolically represented the more than a million people across Europe who had signed the #noTTIP petition.