As the European Parliament drafts its opinion on the controversial TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) 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.
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
Guy Taylor, a trade campaigner from Global Justice Now, one of the signatories of the letter said: "In their rush to deliver a trade deal that pleases the big corporations, EU negotiators are ignoring potentially disastrous consequences for ordinary people across both the EU and the US. Food and environmental standards are at risk, and public services could be sacrificed as well. All this will be backed up by a secretive tribunal system which extends corporate power and influence over our democracy. Members of the European Parliament must oppose TTIP at every turn if they wish to represent the interests of their constituents over the wealthy top 1% of society."
Key demands in the open letter to MEPs include to 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."
More than 5,000 people in the UK have contacted their MEPs asking them to tell the EU parliament to stop TTIP.