The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
The Czech Young Greens are very concerned about the ongoing negotiations between the USA and the European Union about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Our concern comes from several issues that we feel could endanger our society and put them in risk of corporate exploitation. This could be the largest trade deal in history and we feel that all citizens need to be informed properly of to expect.
- Transparency. Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the negotiations is the fact that they are being done largely behind closed doors, in secret. Only select members of the European Parliament and the Commission have access to the negotiations, leaving member states, the majority of the European Parliament, civil society, and the public without much of any information.
- Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDS) ISDS is the ability for multinational firms to sue countries if they feel that new or existing legislation could affect their future profits negatively. Examples of this already are happening all over the world. For instance, the Canadian province of Quebec had a moratorium fracking (similarly to the Czech Republic) and were later sued by the Texas based fracking company Lone Pine Resources Inc. under the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because they did not have access to the market. The interests of private companies are put on a par with the laws adopted by democratically elected representatives of the citizens.
- Lowering of Standards. While the details of what the agreement will exactly contain are still largely unknown, we do know one thing. Standards are different in both the US and the EU, and in many times much lower in the USA. This is a result of the EU supporting the precautionary principle, whereas the US is more liberal in economic way and often puts things on the market before understanding the full health or safety implications.
- Agriculture. The US has for years tried to enter the European market for agriculture but has only slowly gained access because of the EU’s rejections to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Today only some GMO’s are permitted in the EU, but this is likely to increase as regulations will be altered under TTIP.
- Lack of civil society oversight.
The USA and EU are already two of the biggest trading partners in the world because they have already removed much of the ‘low hanging fruit’ which stood as barriers to trade. These ‘low hanging fruit’ are the matters that have been negotiated already without much controversy. Therefore the TTIP aims to handle what’s left- the tough stuff. The things that are intentionally different transatlantically and have been defended domestically in the past, will be at risk under TTIP. Different standards in the EU and US are a result of diversions that come from having independent, democratic governments. This is nothing that should be taken lightly.
If there wasn’t money to be made in this agreement, governments and businesses wouldn’t be advocating for it. Yet who will get this money? While claims of jobs creation are being made, this is yet to be proven. On the contrary, many studies show that jobs could be lost in Europe. This could be due in fact to that the US has lower working standards and labor rights than in many EU countries.
Negotiators claim that this agreement is a natural progression for both sides of the Atlantic, given the common history and shared values. These values are of promoting and defending democracy, which is exactly why this agreement is so discerning- it is not being done in a democratic fashion and favors corporations at the expense of citizens.
Czech Young Greens are not a priori against trade agreements between the USA and EU, nevertheless we consider actual negotiations about TTIP as totally unacceptable. We understand that the main goal of trade agreement is to make trading easier but it cannot be reached at the expense of democratic principles or without possibility of active participation of the citizens.