As the European Parliament drafts its opinion on the controversial EU-US trade deal (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP) talks, 375 civil society organisations from across Europe have called on EU decision-makers to protect citizens, workers, and the environment from the threats it poses.
In an open letter sent to MEPs today groups – including trade unions, consumer, environmental, and civil rights organisations – from 25 countries, warn that TTIP could constrain democratic decision-making by strengthening the influence of big business and undermining public services, the protection of public health, the environment, food and workers' rights.
Paul de Clerk of Europe's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "TTIP is like a Trojan horse. In the end we find out that it results in lower food, environmental, labour standards and the sacrificing of democratic rights for corporate interests. MEPs have to clearly reject the dangerous provisions in TTIP, such as giving corporations vast new powers to sue governments in corporate biased tribunals and regulatory cooperation as the ultimate tool for business lobby groups to stop new regulation."
Pia Eberhardt of lobby-watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory said: "TTIP is an attempted corporate coup d'etat where big business on both sides of the Atlantic is trying to achieve in secret negotiations what it could not get in open and democratic processes – from watering down food safety standards to rolling back regulations in the financial sector."
The call comes as European Parliament committees are discussing a draft resolution on the TTIP negotiations to be voted upon in May. It will not be legally binding on negotiators, but will be a significant political signal as any final TTIP deal would have to pass a vote in the European Parliament.
Key demands in the open letter to MEPs include the rejection of so-called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and a regulatory cooperation council in TTIP, as well as a call to oppose the lowering of standards and for the publication of all negotiation texts.
Resistance against TTIP has grown rapidly across Europe in recent months. More than 1.5 million people have signed a self-organised European Citizens' Initiative calling on EU decision-makers to stop the TTIP negotiations and to not ratify the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA).
Erich Foglar of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) said: "Trade unions will not support trade deals that lead to job losses, increase inequalities and undermine democracy. But the negotiation texts and independent studies we see, show that this is exactly what TTIP is about. What we need is a trade policy which respects democracy, helps generate decent jobs and enhances workers' rights."