Opposition to EU-US trade deal gathers momentum as negotiations falter

Thursday, 17 July, 2014

Campaign groups and trade unions announced plans for further protests against the TTIP deal this week, protestors were evicted from a meeting in Brussels, and negotiators appeared to make little progress in agreeing the deal.

Opposition to the EU-US trade deal gathered momentum this week, as negotiators meeting in Brussels appeared to make little progress in their negotiations.

Campaign groups and trade unions announced plans for Europe-wide protests on 11 October against the deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Campaigners also launched a ‘Citizens’ Initiative’ petition to the European Commission with the aim of gathering one million signatures against the deal.

150,000 people responded to a European Commission consultation that closed on 13 July on one of the most controversial parts of the TTIP deal, the ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ mechanism (ISDS). The response is believe to be the biggest ever to such a consultation. The ISDS would allow multinational companies to sue governments over decisions they believed might affect their profits. The EU has said it will suggest a way forward on this aspect of TTIP in November.

Protestors from Spain, Belgium and Germany were forcibly evicted from a ‘civil society consultation’ yesterday after interrupting a meeting with chief EU and US negotiators to demand the text of the agreement be made public. The deal is being negotiated in secret, with MEPs and the public unable to scrutinise the text.

The World Development Movement’s head of campaigns and policy Polly Jones said today:

The coalition against TTIP is growing by the week. Citizens in both Europe and the US understand how serious a threat this agreement is to our democracy. We are now planning an Autumn of activism on TTIP, and we believe we can beat it.

Campaign groups including the World Development Movement and trade unions including Unite have called for the NHS and other public services to be taken out of the TTIP, warning that the deal could bring privatisation of health and education in the UK. Chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero claimed last week that future of the NHS was safe. But campaigners have countered his claims, pointing out that the deal could allow private companies to sue a future UK government if it reversed privatisation measures already made possible in the NHS in England under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

The Slovak government has already been sued under a legal system similar to that proposed under TTIP for reversing health privatisation policies.

The European Commission has claimed the deal would bring people in the UK and the rest of Europe an extra £2 per person per week by 2027. But a European Commission study has also predicted that one million people across the UK, Europe and the US could lose their jobs as a result of the deal.

Polly Jones said:

The prediction that we could be £2 a week richer by 2027 is questionable. Even if it were true, it would be small compensation for a deal that threatens jobs, puts public services at risk from privatisation, and is likely to weaken food and environmental standards. The TTIP deal is a threat to our democracy and our society, and it should be abandoned.

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Photo: Protests against the EU-US trade deal were held across the UK on 12 July.