Friday, 22 May 2015

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership >>>> "I’d vote against TTIP, except, hang on a minute, I can’t."

There are fears that European environment protection measures will be weakened:
Futures Forum: Defend Nature: the RSPB campaign to defend wildlife laws

This comes on top of pressures on wildlife from pesticides:
Futures Forum: Neonicotinoids are bad for bees >>> What can we do?

It seems that much of this might already be happening - through the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TIPP.

Today's Independent carries this report:

TTIP controversy: EU drops pesticide laws because US says it should

European Commission denies that the TTIP had any bearing on the decision


The EU scrapped planned pesticide regulations under pressure from US officials over the controversial transatlantic trade deal TTIP, newly published documents have revealed.

According to documents obtained by the Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe, a visit from high-level officials from the US Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) in July 2013 convinced the EU to drop planned rules that could have led to the banning of 31 pesticides containing health hazardous chemicals.

AmCham representatives reportedly "complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists" of prohibited substances during the meeting, and US trade officials "emphasised the need for an impact assessment," The Guardianhas reported.

The European Commission at first resisted, claiming that though they back TTIP "they would not like to be seen as lowering EU standards," but relented later that same day, a letter from the desk of the Commission's secretary-general has shown..

What is TTIP? The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an agreement between the US and the EU designed to encourage free trade by removing commercial barriers.

Samuel Lowe, TTIP campaigner for Friends of the Earth, told The Independent: "This is yet further evidence that the European Commission is more than willing to trade off, weaken, or delay much needed regulation and protections for the sake of completing this TTIP trade deal. The repeated claims that TTIP will not undermine our standards here in Europe and the UK are becoming less and less credible by the day."

The pesticides the rules would have affected contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the illnesses to which its been linked include cancer and male infertility — the health costs have been estimated at €150bn per year.

The EU will vote on legislation to regulate EDCs in 2016 at the earliest, instead of 2014 as was planned previously.

US officials have been lobbying prior to the July intervention, with AmCham writing to the European Commission a month earlier warning of the "wide-reaching implications" of the proposals and urging looser limits for exposure to EDCs that would be based on a substance's potency.

There is also reports of a high-level internal note to European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg the week before the decision to drop the proposal was made in which concerns from the other side of the Atlantic were stressed.

There was massive lobbying efforts from European firms over EDCs regulation in the weeks leading up to the decision, with the European Chemical Industry Council claiming it "could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations."

64 MEPs raised questions about the delay to the EDC legislation earlier this year.

A European Commission spokesperson told The Guardian: "The ongoing EU impact assessment procedure is not linked in any way to the TTIP negotiations. The EU will proceed to the adoption of definitive criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, independently from


TTIP controversy: EU drops pesticide laws because US says it should - Europe - World - The Independent

This is from the Independent from last year:

What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you

The trade negotiations are an assault on democracy. I would vote against them except… hang on a minute, I can’t

LEE WILLIAMS Tuesday 7 October 2014

Image result for What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you

Have you heard about TTIP? If your answer is no, don’t get too worried; you’re not meant to have.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. As a bi-lateral trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations. It is, as John Hilary, Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, said: “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”

Since before TTIP negotiations began last February, the process has been secretive and undemocratic. This secrecy is on-going, with nearly all information on negotiations coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests.

But worryingly, the covert nature of the talks may well be the least of our problems. Here are six other reasons why we should be scared of TTIP, very scared indeed:

1 The NHS

Public services, especially the NHS, are in the firing line. One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to US companies. This could essentially mean the privatisation of the NHS.

The European Commission has claimed that public services will be kept out of TTIP. However, according to the Huffington Post, the UK Trade Minister Lord Livingston has admitted that talks about the NHS were still on the table.

2 Food and environmental safety

TTIP’s ‘regulatory convergence’ agenda will seek to bring EU standards on food safety and the environment closer to those of the US. But US regulations are much less strict, with 70 per cent of all processed foods sold in US supermarkets now containing genetically modified ingredients. By contrast, the EU allows virtually no GM foods. The US also has far laxer restrictions on the use of pesticides. It also uses growth hormones in its beef which are restricted in Europe due to links to cancer. US farmers have tried to have these restrictions lifted repeatedly in the past through the World Trade Organisation and it is likely that they will use TTIP to do so again.

The same goes for the environment, where the EU’s REACH regulations are far tougher on potentially toxic substances. In Europe a company has to prove a substance is safe before it can be used; in the US the opposite is true: any substance can be used until it is proven unsafe. As an example, the EU currently bans 1,200 substances from use in cosmetics; the US just 12.

3 Banking regulations

TTIP cuts both ways. The UK, under the influence of the all-powerful City of London, is thought to be seeking a loosening of US banking regulations. America’s financial rules are tougher than ours. They were put into place after the financial crisis to directly curb the powers of bankers and avoid a similar crisis happening again. TTIP, it is feared, will remove those restrictions, effectively handing all those powers back to the bankers.

4 Privacy

Remember ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)? It was thrown out by a massive majority in the European Parliament in 2012 after a huge public backlash against what was rightly seen as an attack on individual privacy where internet service providers would be required to monitor people’s online activity. Well, it’s feared that TTIP could be bringing back ACTA’s central elements, proving that if the democratic approach doesn’t work, there’s always the back door. An easing of data privacy laws and a restriction of public access to pharmaceutical companies’ clinical trials are also thought to be on the cards.

5 Jobs

The EU has admitted that TTIP will probably cause unemployment as jobs switch to the US, where labour standards and trade union rights are lower. It has even advised EU members to draw on European support funds to compensate for the expected unemployment.

Examples from other similar bi-lateral trade agreements around the world support the case for job losses. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico caused the loss of one million US jobs over 12 years, instead of the hundreds of thousands of extra that were promised.

6 Democracy

TTIP’s biggest threat to society is its inherent assault on democracy. One of the main aims of TTIP is the introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits. In effect it means unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically elected governments.

ISDSs are already in place in other bi-lateral trade agreements around the world and have led to such injustices as in Germany where Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing the German government for billions of dollars over its decision to phase out nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Here we see a public health policy put into place by a democratically elected government being threatened by an energy giant because of a potential loss of profit. Nothing could be more cynically anti-democratic.

There are around 500 similar cases of businesses versus nations going on around the world at the moment and they are all taking place before ‘arbitration tribunals’ made up of corporate lawyers appointed on an ad hoc basis, which according to War on Want’s John Hilary, are “little more than kangaroo courts” with “a vested interest in ruling in favour of business.”

So I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. I would vote against TTIP, except… hang on a minute… I can’t. Like you, I have no say whatsoever in whether TTIP goes through or not. All I can do is tell as many people about it as possible, as I hope, will you. We may be forced to accept an attack on democracy but we can at least fight against the conspiracy of silence.

What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you - Comment - Voices - The Independent

And this is from the 38 Degrees campaign group from last week:

38 Degrees Logo
It’s not often that big business admits they’re losing to people power. The head of a huge pro-TTIP, pro-big business group - the CBI - has warned his colleagues that 38 Degrees members are winning the fight to stop the dodgy TTIP trade deal:

"… when we started on this journey who had heard of 38 Degrees? Yet 38 Degrees has generated a massive social media campaign...So business needs to step up a gear" [1]

If they’re stepping up a gear, so should we. In the next month, there are two crucial votes on TTIP happening in the EU parliament. If we win the votes, we could break the deal. [2] But we’re competing against big business who are mounting a fightback, and we don’t have long to make sure MEPs listen to us - not them.

There’s so much we can do together, but if we’re going to come up with a winning plan, we need to decide what to do together, without delay! The possibilities are huge. From tweeting and emailing our MEPs to visiting them in their constituencies - or Brussels - or chipping in for giant ads outside the EU parliament.

We’ll only win if we give it our all. So can you help decide what we should do next to stop TTIP? We make the best plans when we do it together. Please click the link below to fill out a short survey:


TTIP is still shrouded in secrecy. But the more leaks we see, the more dangerous it looks. It’s not just our NHS and public services that could go under the knife - it’s everything from controls on additives in our food to regulations that keep our bees safe from pesticides. [3]

We’re up against big corporate voices who’ll do anything to persuade politicians that TTIP’s a good idea. But we’ve got people power on our side, and we’ve already shown we’re a match for them:
  • Just two weeks ago politicians in Scotland responded to a storm of pressure from 38 Degrees members and shifted further against TTIP. [4]
  • Over in the US, Obama just lost a crucial vote on TTIP. That’s thanks to a huge people-powered mobilisation against big business influence in America. [5]

TTIP’s losing in Scotland and in the US - now it’s down to us to make sure it loses in Europe too. Our MEPs need to hear the call to scrap TTIP loud and clear. Please take two minutes to fill out this short survey and decide what we should do next:

38 Degrees | The campaign against TTIP

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