So what impact will this revelation have on the ‘Brexit’ vote next month?
By Pam Barker | TLB staff writer
Yesterday, a massive nail in the coffin, perhaps the truly decisive one, was delivered against the TTIP or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership by the leaking of a cache of negotiating documents by Greenpeace Netherlands. The link to those documents is here.
Mirroring the TTP treaty between the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries, which has already been signed but not yet ratified, the TTIP will similarly override national sovereignty of participating nations by enabling them to be sued in secret corporate courts, called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, when any national (or state) legislation restricts a corporation’s ability to make even greater profits. That in addition to weakening legislation around consumer and environmental protections as well as workers’ rights, animal rights, public health and internet privacy. Successful ISDS lawsuits mean much-needed public money is siphoned away from important public services.
The leak involves 13 of 17 chapters in ‘consolidated text form’, which confirm that ‘TTIP will open the door to US producers of genetically modified food and other products banned in the EU for public health and environmental reasons, confirming fears that European regulatory standards will be abandoned in the deal’.
The documents further reveal US refusal to accept any EU modifications to the ‘corporate court’ or ISDS mechanism.
They also indicate the degree to which the negotiators for the unelected body of the European Commission have been trying to ‘trade away key sectors of the European economy in order to win contracts for multinational corporations in the USA’. All of this being done in secret until yesterday.
This excellent 7 minute video (above) explains well how signatory governments can and DO get sued by investors and for what reasons. Uruguay, for example, is being sued for $2 billion by cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris for having put health warnings on its packets. Lone Pine Company is suing the Canadian government for $250 million for Quebec’s decision to stop fracking over environmental concerns. In 2012, there were 58 such claims being made, the highest recorded number, and 57 in 2013.
Such actions have the effect of freezing policy decisions because of the risk of getting sued, and thus pose a threat to our governments being able to take democratic action on our behalf. And it’s a game that only works in one direction – for the investors to be able to sue governments and not in reverse. Plus there is no democratic accountability for the outcomes.
War on Want director, John Hilary said in response that the TTIP was most probably ended and that a public inquiry should be held to investigate how such damaging and secret negotiations could ever have been allowed to reach the point they did:
“We have long warned that TTIP is a danger to democracy, food safety, jobs and public services. Now we see it is even worse than we feared. Today’s leak shows the European Commission preparing to sell us down the river, doing deals behind closed doors that will change the face of European society for ever. It is simply unacceptable that a group of unelected officials should be allowed to contemplate such a thing without any public scrutiny.
Today marks the end of TTIP. Total secrecy was the only way the European Commission could keep the European people from learning the truth about these appalling negotiations, and now the cat is out of the bag. We call on the governments of Europe to halt the TTIP talks immediately, disband the EU negotiating team and hold a public inquiry into how such a damaging set of negotiations was ever allowed to get this far.”
It remains to be seen how these revelations will impact the Brexit campaign and the vote that is due to take place next month, on June 23, the referendum in which British citizens will decide to leave the EU or not, since it is now blatantly obvious how the European Commission is selling out the citizens of member states.
For further overview, I can recommend Deidre Fulton’s excellent summary for Common Dreams.
About the author
Pam Barker is a TLB staff writer/analyst based in France. She has an extensive background in the educational systems of several countries at the college and university level as a teacher and administrator.