Tag Archive for TTIP

TTIP—a cloak for imperialist expansion

sv

Taken from this months Socialist Voice -http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/02-ttip.html

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, now being secretly negotiated between the European Union and the United States, is an agreement designed to attack the gains of workers, to open up public utilities and services to private competition, to reduce environmental and safety standards, and to do away with banking regulations, and it will result in massive levels of unemployment and reductions in wages.

Furthermore, TTIP would give transnational corporations a veto over any government regulations that stood in the way of greater profit. And—according to the US “ambassador” to the EU, Anthony Gardner—TTIP is an imperial geopolitical strategy, aimed at isolating Russia and creating an economic version of NATO.

The origin of TTIP goes back to 1995, when it was floated by the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, an invitation-only group of chief executives of the most powerful American and European companies. Unlike other trade agreements, TTIP has little to do with the lowering of tariffs and everything to do with removing or degrading regulations that they see as a barrier to profits. The banking regulations that were intended to prevent another 2008-style capitalist crash are to go; environmental regulations that are superior to those in the United States are to be degraded, giving American transnationals a decided advantage over European businesses; and hard-won social standards and labour rights are to go, along with health and safety regulations, food standards, and regulations on toxic chemicals and on data protection.

Furthermore, the proposed establishment of a “Regulatory Co-operation Council” would police the implementation of agreed deregulation commitments, and would give corporations the power to amend, or even veto, the planned regulations of a sovereign state, even after TTIP has been ratified. This would give the corporations power over national governments, diminishing their right to regulate in the interests of their own people. Any proposed regulations that corporations felt would get in the way of profit could be amended by the corporations in their interests, or removed altogether.

With regard to employment, exaggerated claims have been made by EU officials and local politicians about the positive effect TTIP would have on the creation of jobs. Reducing Transatlantic Barriers to Trade and Investment: An Economic Assessment, commissioned by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, claims that the EU’s economic output would rise by 0.5 per cent by 2027, and this has become the most commonly quoted figure. However, this claim is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, and is only the most optimistic scenario from that report. More realistic scenarios from the same report estimate an increase in GDP of little more than 0.1 per cent—i.e. an annual increase in the growth of GDP of 0.01 per cent for the ten-year period.

The reality is very different from the optimistic claims of the pro-TTIP officials and politicians. The degrading and reversal of regulations, and the fact that employment standards are lower in the United States and that trade union rights are practicality non-existent, would result in European companies purchasing goods and services from the United States, causing a huge negative effect on jobs in Europe.

A recent report by Jeronim Capaldo, The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: European Disintegration, Unemployment and Instability, predicts that European countries would lose 600,000 jobs. Furthermore, there would be a significant reduction in wages as a result of TTIP.

The EU has in fact recognised the reality of such job losses, and that those who lost their jobs would be unlikely to find alternative employment. In response to this probable loss the EU Commission has advised member-states to draw on structural support funds, such as the European Globalisation Fund and the European Social Fund, which has been assigned €70 billion to distribute over the seven years 2014–2020.

The hard-won working conditions of Irish and other European workers will be under threat as TTIP seeks to harmonise the working conditions of European workers with those in the United States. This puts in context the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements, which are preparing the way for a wholesale onslaught on the wages and working conditions of Irish workers.

For further evidence of the likely effect on jobs we need only look at the North American Free Trade Agreement (between the United States, Canada, and Mexico), which also promised hundreds of thousands of jobs but in fact resulted in the loss of more than a million.

Public services and government procurement contracts would be opened up, creating new privatised markets for transnational corporations, particularly in the fields of health, education, water, and housing—which explains the disinvestment by the Irish government in those areas: they are preparing the way for privatisation.

Furthermore, local authority procurement contracts would be opened up to the private sector. This means that important social and environmental goals and protections would no longer be allowed.

Massive job losses, wage reductions, banking deregulation, environmental and safety deregulation, the privatisation of public utilities and services, and the vetting by corporations of proposed national government regulations—you would think it couldn’t get worse. But it can.

In all its recent trade agreements the United States has built in an “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) mechanism. It also wishes to see this as part of TTIP, which would mean that transnational corporations would be able to sue national governments over any existing legislation that would inhibit profit-making. ISDS makes transnational capital the equal of sovereign states, which threatens to undermine the most basic principles of democracy.

Under ISDS, transnational corporations would be able to bring states to a tribunal outside the normal legal system, administered by corporate lawyers. Several countries are already being sued under ISDS, including Sweden, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, and Ecuador. In Australia the tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing the Australian government for introducing plain packaging on cigarettes. Ecuador was fined €1.77 billion for ending the oil contract with Occidental Petroleum after the company broke Ecuadorian law. In another tribunal Ecuador was refused a claim for €19 billion against Chevron for damage the company did to the Ecuadorian rain forest.

TTIP is something more than a trade agreement: it is an imperialist geopolitical strategy, with three clear purposes:

(1) an imposed economic and regulatory hegemony between the EU and the United States, resulting in the loss of 600,000 jobs, worsening conditions of employment, and wage reductions, massive privatisations of public utilities and services, and deregulation in banking and environmental protection and in health and safety;

(2) a reduction of the powers of sovereign states over their own regulatory legislation, which would be vetted by transnational corporations, which could sue states over any legislation that negatively affected their profit;

(3) the isolation of Russia and the creation of a bulwark against China and against Asian energy supplies. As Anthony Gardner recently stated, “there are critical geo-strategic reasons to get this deal done, and every day I am reminded of the global context of why we are negotiating TTIP.” And, “just look at what is happening in the Middle East, or Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine. We need this deal to help solidify further the transatlantic alliance, to provide an economic equivalent to NATO, and to set the rules of world trade before others do it for us. There are many reasons why this agreement is not only important, it is vital.”

The capitalist crisis of 2008 provided the cover for capitalism to attack the hard-won living standards of workers. TTIP would be a frontal assault on all the gains workers have achieved not only in wages and working conditions but in social support, environmental protection, health and safety, personal privacy, and financial regulation. Social-democratic government would be eviscerated, becoming a mere fig leaf for corporatism.

Irish government ministers have been falling over themselves to praise TTIP; but such is the level of secrecy surrounding it that ministers are not involved in the negotiation of the treaty. They can only see documents related to TTIP under very restricted circumstances, and are not allowed to take copies. They would have no say in the final agreement. Ministers have exposed themselves for the collaborators they are. They represent the interests of international capital and the imperialist powers and have no regard for the interests of their own citizens.

While hundreds of thousands have demonstrated in Europe against TTIP, there has been no similar response here in Ireland. The trade unions have complained about it but have done little by way of organising the people against it. The mainstream media have virtually ignored it. An international trade agreement that would devastate the working class is staring us in the face, yet little or nothing is being done to offer even a token defence.

Trade unions are meant to be the protectors of workers. It is imperative that they rally Irish workers to reject this agreement, rather than walking them into this nightmare.

TTIP: what it will mean for us and what is the alternative?

A new briefing paper from November 2015 written by Martin Myant for the European Trade Union Institute – ETUI.

TTIP: what will it mean

As the author says:

TTIP has already provoked more public opposition and doubts than has been the case with any previous international trade agreement. Thanks to the strength of that opposition, we now have a little more openness in the negotiation process. We now know what the negotiations cover, in broad terms. We know something of the EU negotiating positions. However, we do not know the US positions, nor do we know to what extent the two sides are agreeing on the range of topics
covered by the agreement.

The paper goes on to look at what we do know about the inclusion of reduction of non-tariff barriers, ISDS and the affect of TTIP on working conditions.

A wonderful parade against TTIP in Berlin

Victor Grossman – Berlin Bulletin No. 101, October 11 2015

It was a day to remember, a date for the record books! It marked a surprising development in German politics! And who said Germans don’t like protest marches or demonstrations? The organizers counted 250,000, a quarter of a million. Of course the police scaled that down – to 150,000. But who’s counting – it was definitely the biggest since 2003 against the Iraq War. It was a protest against the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, TTIP, and its equally spurned Canadian sister, CETA. Like their US-Pacific clone TPP, both are to be shoved through the JA-vote mill, with little discussion of their contents, or even knowledge of them, after years of top-secret sessions with big biz experts and lobbyists.

The march organizers, two opposition parties, the LINKE (Left) and the Greens, Campac (CAMpaign-ACtion, something like MoveOn.org), Attac (against financial speculation),  almost 500 ecological, cultural, health and leftist groups of many colors and, of key importance, the union movement –  had hoped for 100,000. The media predicted only half that. But when I squeezed out of the jammed city train in Berlin’s main station, pushed through to the exit and looked down at the crowd I could guess at their mistake. It was so full, stretching across the bridges over the Spree River, that I gave up any hope of finding my own group and just mixed in with the happy, friendly crowd on this beautiful sunny day. From parents with tots in strollers to ancient graybeards, also two blind women, with tens of thousands of banners and flags or occasional masks and puppets, they showed how varied were their backgrounds and home towns but how unified their will and determination. They joined in laughingly when the loudspeaker voice counted down to “4-3-2-1-“Stop T-TIP” or “T-TIP Nein!”. They listened to impassioned speeches from a Canadian union man warning how job-creating promises about NAFTA had turned out to be lies, then to a woman from Cameroun, who told how her country had been ruined by “free trade improvements,” and a Turkish woman reporting on the massacre a few hours earlier who called for solidarity. The immense crowd waited patiently, then  slowly moved off through one-time East Berlin thoroughfares, past the big Bundestag building and the Soviet War Memorial near Brandenburg Gate into the long wide avenue cutting through one-time West Berlin’s Tiergarten park, where one week earlier 25 years of German unification had been celebrated. Called for 12 noon, they were still arriving at 4.30 PM, while earlier arrivals chatted or danced.

The crowds in Tiergarten this past Saturday were neither celebrating anniversaries nor cheering soccer goals on big screens, but were concerned with today’s pressing problems. TTIP and CETA  could force monopoly standards down unwilling throats, nullify European standards against cruel treatment of calves, hogs and chickens, end barriers to hormone-treated meat and genetic manipulation, drop labeling requirements, crush family farms, change European rules on pharma products which require them to prove their harmlessness before sales are permitted. Some protested planned cancelation of European rules protecting authors’ fees and national cinema culture against more powerful Hollywood pressures. A large number of signs protested the secret arbitration sessions which could meet the wishes of big corporations against any rules limiting their profits, overturning hard-won workers’ protection rules, ecological decisions or anything else in their way. I saw a sign depicting one such happy session with “arbitrators” – all three lobbyists with rat faces. Another told how most promised “advantages” would end up in big accounts in Swiss banks.

Among the speakers, heard by whichever parts of the parade were near sound boxes, was a top Green Party leader, LINKE co-president Bernd Riexinger and Reiner Hoffmann, president of the labor union federation (AGB) with its eight affiliates and about 6 million members. Five special trains and 600 buses had brought many of them in from all parts of Germany. The hometown signs many carried were not only from cities like Hamburg and Cologne but from small towns with unfamiliar names in all regions. I saw two fellows chatting, one from far-off Aachen near the Belgian border,  the other from Dresden close to the Czech border; I was glad to see at least one progressive from that city whose hate-ridden anti-foreigner parades are in so many news reports. I even saw a group from Alsace, across the border in France.

As for the political parties, there were Greens, especially their youth section, also small but determined groups with flags of the SPD, the Social Democratic Party, in defiance of their top leader, Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who carefully avoided this parade to give another of his speeches favoring TTIP. I even saw a handful waving a banner for “The Party”, a satirical group with crazily sarcastic slogans like “Privatize All Water”. Most of all I saw signs of the LINKE, the Left, though somehow TV reports on the parade carefully omitted showing even one of them. As usual!

Of great interest to me were sentiments often heard from the sound trucks and reflected in more than a few posters. One, more than clear, stated: “Take TTIP and shove it – and Capitalism with it!” Although this giant event included large contingents from the unions, not just leftist ones but even the conservative Building Workers or the Miners and Chemical Workers’ Union, the crowds seemed to happily accept or even cheer calls for a change of the system. It would be false to overestimate this, I am sure (and which people usually tend to take long trips to demonstrations?), yet it seemed to mark a renewed, rebellious and progressive trend.

New trends are sorely needed – because of other crowds. The tens of thousands of immigrants fleeing into Germany have evoked a dangerous counter-current which, increasingly aided by many media sources now again turning anti-foreigner, is displaying ominous, racist trends on its margins. Indeed, rightwing elements centered in the Bavarian sister party of the Christian Democrats are now even attacking hitherto untouchable Angela Merkel. A strange situation is developing: Merkel, though still stubborn in favor of TTIP and against leftist trends like in Greece, and after wavering back and forth on the immigrant question, has now stated defiantly that Germany cannot build a giant new wall, this time around its borders, but must courageously overcome the immense difficulties in integrating hundreds of thousands, while pressuring reluctant European Union partners to join in. Now, to general amazement, she is being supported by the opposition, the Greens, even the LINKE, while under attack from forces in her own party – with her Social Democrat coalition partner split.

Changes in the German political scene seem more and more in the offing. Fronts are changing, often hardening; no-one can predict which direction will gain the overhand. The giant demonstration on Saturday, with many signs saying “Immigrants Welcome!”, was moving evidence that events are not moving only in a rightward direction.

The political economy of water charges – an EU dimension

The origin of the planned water charges lies in the EU’s Water Framework Directive (2000), which provided for full cost recovery for water use and whose Article 9 states; ‘Member States shall take account of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services …’ It also required Member States to have in place water-pricing policies by 2010. The Directive was transposed into Irish Law in 2003. The Water Framework Directive, which seeks to commodify water provision through the establishment of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services. The EU took advantage of the ‘bailout’ to make it a condition of the ‘loans’.  This will open the way for the sale of Irish Water either in whole or in part, ostensibly to complete the single market or to promote competition ‘in the interests of the consumer’. This is just one reason why there is such government resistance to a constitutional referendum to permanently retain Irish Water in public  ownership – the other is TTIP.

Both sides in the TTIP negotiations have made clear their intention to use TTIP to get access to what is described as “public monopolies;” that is, public utilities including water. These services would then be vulnerable to greater outsourcing and private tendering for service delivery and eventually, to privatisation. TTIP would open up public procurement contracts to the private sector, meaning that social, environmental or “public good” goals in public procurement would be removed. A private monopoly can fix its price at an unaffordable level, as Bechtel did in Bolivia, leading to a popular uprising; the termination of the contract and replacement of the government.

It would also make the nationalisation (or renationalisation) of services or resources virtually impossible, as incredibly, corporations would be able to sue for loss of future and expected profits. This is facilitated by the inclusion of an (ISDS) Investor – State Dispute Settlement clause in TTIP. TTIP would increase the pressure for the privatisation of ‘services of general interest’, such as water services. Foreign suppliers of services of general interest should not be entitled to claim “forgone profits” through ISDS. This provision, in effect would further legalise neo-liberalism as the economic and social framework in Ireland and the EU.

But even if ISDS is removed from TTIP, the main goal remains; to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules, regulations on the use of toxic chemicals and digital privacy laws. Public water provision is only one of the services under threat from TTIP. Both water charges and TTIP must be defeated!

Frank Keoghan

http://www.tuleftforum.com/water-charges-eu-ttip/

Declining support for EU

These referendum results show a steady decline in support for the European Union and the political, social and economic direction it has taken and directed member-states to follow.

As the global economy continues to stagnate and the ‘recovery’ falters more austerity is to come as the EU and the US drive home their agenda for big business and the wealthy.

Progressives in Ireland have to challenge the EU and not just ambulance chase on issues in Ireland. For this we need a principled movement not caught up in short term electoral opportunism.

TTIP represents the challenge of the day and public awareness must be raised on this issue. Unions must be won over to campaign and standing up against TTIP and the EU/US elites. ISDS, while being the most offensive part of the TTIP negotiations, is not the only concern.

A broad alliance is growing around the TTIP Information Network www.ttip.ie this needs to be built on and expanded as does the progressive union positions that are being taken.

Stop the TTIP!!!!

Stop the TTIP – People’s Movement

Read the above pamphlet to get a good understanding of how an EU-US trade and investment treaty threatens democracy, would attack workers’ rights, erode social standards and environmental regulations, dilute food safety rules, undermine regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, rubbish digital privacy laws, and strangle developing economies.

And check out the website http://www.people.ie/english1.html