New levels of TTIP rejection revealed by Commission’s public consultation

New levels of TTIP rejection revealed by Commission’s public consultation

Date: 13 January 2015

The extent of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s (TTIP) unpopularity across Europe was exposed today as the European Commission published the results of its largest public consultation in history. The results of the consultation, launched last year, were scheduled to be published in late 2014, but were delayed following an unprecedented number of largely negative responses.

The results of the consultation, which focused on ‘investment protection’ under the controversial trade deal, showed that

  • of the 149, 399 responses, 97% of participants have voiced either a general rejection of TTIP or opposition to ISDS in TTIP.
  • the largest number of responses, 52,008 or 34.8% of the total, came from the UK.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) said:

“‘Investment protection’ is an innocuous sounding euphemism for corporations being able to bully governments behind closed doors for billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, so it’s little wonder that so many people across Europe are opposed to it. This public consultation has demonstrated once more the extent of TTIP’s unpopularity with European citizens.”

What’s amazing, given the response of the European public, is that the Commission has not immediately abandoned this much hated measure. Rather, the Commission has insulted EU citizens by telling them that they weren’t interested in whether or not there should be investor protection in TTIP. To continue with these talks now is an enormous affront to European democracy.”

“This consultation has been a PR disaster for TTIP. The Commission can try to spin it by complaining about orchestrated responses, or by identifying areas for improvement, but this trade deal is proving to be one of the most unpopular measures that Brussels has tried to enact.” 

“Only 3 % of participants followed the Commission’s call to propose suggestions on how ISDS could be improved, which was what it had intended. In other words: The Commission asked Europeans to say how the system could be tweaked and the overwhelming answer was that citizens do not want this system to be improved – they reject it all together.”

‘Investment protection,’ also known as investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) is an integral part of the trade deal that would enable corporations to sue national governments in secret courts for introducing legislation that could be shown to harm their profits. One of the most famous examples is an ISDS claim brought by tobacco company Philip Morris against the Australian government’s plain packaging legislation.

Recent research has shown that 127 known ISDS cases have been brought against 20 EU member states since 1994, with billions of euros being obtained by corporations in damages. Critics fear that TTIP would dramatically increase the ability of corporations to bring such cases, costing tax payers billions of pounds and simultaneously inhibiting governments from introducing legislation to protect the environment, public health or labour standards. A study that was commissioned by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills concluded that, “an EU-US investment treaty that does contain ISDS is likely to have few or no benefits to the UK, while having meaningful economic and political costs”.

ISDS has become one of many controversial and contested elements of the TTIP negotiations. In November 2014 the French government stated that it wouldn’t ratify the agreement if ISDS was included, while in October 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker gave indications of his opposition to ISDS prior to his being sworn in as president of the European Commission.

In early February, Global Justice Now will be taking 100 people from across the UK on a two day trip to Brussels to protest at the next round of the negotiations, lobby their MEPs and meet other TTIP protesters and campaigners from across Europe.