What is TTIP?
TTIP stands for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It is a free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. Broadly speaking it has three maincomponents:
- Market Access: TTIP would remove customs duties (tax on imports) on both sides of the Atlantic, making it cheaper for businesses to trade with each other.
- Regulation: TTIP wants to remove regulatory barriers and create one set of rules for both continents.
- Investment: another objective is to make investment easier businesses looking to set up on either side of the atlantic as well as provide new opportunities for banks and other financial institutions.
If it passes, TTIP will be the biggest agreement of its kind, representing nearly half of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) and a quarter of global trade.
That doesn't sound so bad…What are the concerns?
The investment aspect of the agreement is a major cause for concern. Both the EU and the US are eager to insert an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause into the deal. ISDS procedures are sometimes included in trade deals to promote high levels of investment, but there are deep concerns about their legitimacy, not to mention necessity, in two economies with independent and stable legal systems.
Under ISDS, an investor who feels that their prospects have been diminished by government action can sue the government, not through the host country’s judicial system, but through an independent tribunal set-up under the ISDS provisions.
Effectively, it would make it easier for corporations to sue governments for any policy that potentially harmed their profits. For example, a tobacco company tried to sue the Australian government for public health legislation on cigarette packaging via an ISDS agreement Australia has with Hong Kong.
There is no telling where this kind of loose wording in treaties will leave us. It’s this kind of vague wording that has led to cases where people have used super-injunctions under the ‘right to privacy’ legislation or terrorists using the right to a ‘family life’ legislation to avoid being deported. The spirit of the law is very different to the letter of it.
There are also fears that TTIP could lead the way for the privatisation of the NHS. UK Trade Minister Lord Livingston has admitted that talks about the potential privatisation of the NHS were still on the table. On the reverse, it also forbids the nationalisation of public services and utilities.
(Jeremy Corbyn knows he won't be able to go ahead with his promises).
A free trade deal should never be able to overrule the wishes of a democratically elected government.
A report from the Global Development and Environment Institute predicts that 600,000 EU jobs will be lost because of TTIP.
Can I read it for myself to make up my own mind?
No - TTIP is being negotiated in secret. Aside from a few vague documents, it remains secret almost in its entirety. Wikileaks have put up a €100,000 Euro reward for a copy of it.
Surely my MEP will get to read it before they vote on it?
It depends on how fast they can read. The way that negotiations have been handled so far suggests that MEPs will have very little time to read the legislation, let alone debate any amendments to it, before voting on it. This happened with the controversial Patriot Act in the United States, where senators didn’t have enough time to read the bill before having to vote on it. Some groups within the European Parliament want to stop MEP’s debating TTIP altogether.
Over half of British MEPs have committed to voting against the whole of TTIP. That includes all Labour, UKIP, Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru MEPs.
"Borrowed" from TheKnow.eu website.