News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Age 27, lives in London, educated, and voted "out of EU"-Brexit not Racist

"It's hard to know what drives politicians to sell out their people and their country." Der Spiegel on TTIP, 5/6/16 

6/26/16, "Londoners' reactions in the immediate aftermath of Brexit: "You're an old racist for voting Out," Brexit not Racist

"I voted out, I’m 27 and I live in London. I don’t own anything with a Union Jack on it, even though I grew up in a council house and have working class parents. I studied politics and economics for 5 years at Queen Mary and the LSE, so I’m not ‘uneducated’. I don’t hold the same views as these institutions, I don’t belong to any ‘isms’, nor do I identify with left or right: I don’t watch mainstream news, so I don’t feel the need to put myself in any of these boxes. I am not a nihilist either; I’m a freethinking individual who wants peace and harmony for all human beings on this planet.
I do not regret my vote: mass hazing and melodrama do not easily sway me. Over the past couple of days, people have presumed that, because of my age and the fact that I’m a Londoner, I voted IN. Shockingly, I have many times been encouraged to verbally abuse people I do not know based on their class – those ‘scummy little-England, xenophobic OUT voters’. At work, the day after the referendum, emails were sent presenting some very troubling attitudes towards fellow human beings that happen to disagree with the REMAIN perspective, with a link ‘encouraging us’ to sign a petition asking for a second referendum. I’m sure a fair few OUT voters in London are dreading work on Monday. Admitting you wanted out makes you feel as exposed and ashamed as coming out in the 1950s must have done....

Apparently, this referendum was won by “ignorant xenophobes” and “greasy fish n chip loving provincial menial workers” (from a Guardian reader’s comment, copied here)....

This smug, self-righteous attitude has quickly spread to become the only ‘acceptable opinion’ on the streets of London. In the height of this hysteria, people are relinquishing their dignity in order to “stop this madness!” as one spoilt MP put it to parliament....

I didn’t expect victory against the monumental force of moneyed interests: one after the other, we had the entirety of the political establishment (Barrack Obama, Trade Unions, the Governor of the Bank of England, the IMF and a great many more) all speaking in unison: 

If you don’t do what we want, there will be consequences”

By 4am, I was elated. For the first time in my life, the people had actually delivered a resounding NO. More people turned out to vote than in the last 2 decades despite all the fear-mongering tactics, and the message to the establishment was clear: “We have no reason to trust you anymore. If you don’t want this, it must be the right thing for us. Things need to change and we are making our own decisions from now on.”

This filled me with hope that we might be able to turn the tide on the horrendously corrupt political class that is swiftly turning our society into an Orwellian police state before our very eyes....
The fruits of the EU are the degradation of culture, protected crony capitalism, fast growing multinational control over ordinary people. (LOOK UP THE SECRET TTIP NEGOTIATIONS THAT THEY NEVER MENTIONED IN RELATION TO THE EU IN THE MAINSTREAM NEWS!), bloated and overpaid bureaucracy, centralisation and entrenchment of political power, along with the lack of supervision or consultation and war mongering OUTSIDE boarders of the union.

In another article, I will go into more detail on these issues, such as the TTIP and how the EU is NATO’s financial arm. NATO is war mongering against Russia, which even the German finance minister admits, and it is hoped that the EU will continue assisting in this process. The CIA was very influential in setting up the EU for the convenience of manipulating just 1 rather than 28 different governments: if Brexit spreads to other EU countries, the US loses its hegemony. 

This mammoth project has not been bolstered out of the goodness of the Eurocrats’ hearts to protect your workers’ rights or take humanity to the stars. The truth is that most of you live the lives of slaves compared to how your lives should be: there are no real workers’ rights and metrics have shown that we should all be working fewer days by now and earning much more for our time. As a voter, you might have short-term vested interests in the EU: maybe an inflated mortgage in London that everyone assures you will grow in value forever, or perhaps a high salary and enough money to spend at that nice little farmers’ market down the street. I’m a vegetarian and only eat organic, so I sympathise (a bit), but I’m here to tell you that THINGS NEED TO CHANGE AROUND HERE. I believe that Brexit can be a vehicle for this change, and apparently I’m not alone. Brexit is a massive tactical blow to some very dark forces. That is the only reason the mainstream media outlets are giving IN voters a mandate to personally degrade those not on board with this particular model of globalisation.


Having been exposed to about 50 people with very vocal views in favour of REMAIN over the past two days (among which are family, acquaintances, and colleagues), I can see that the corporate media has successfully convinced many Londoners that voting leave was racist (and that house prices would fall if we leave the EU). People have happily undergone heavy cognitive dissonance to perceive themselves as being on the moral high ground, screaming and shouting against BREXIT under the false pretence that they ‘care about their multicultural community’ when in reality all the vitriol is fuelled by fear that house prices will fall. If they look hard at their tears in the mirror and ask themselves why they are getting so swept up in this knee-jerk emotional reaction, they will know deep down that it isn’t about racism! It’s about the property ladder crumbling, which is why they think they are so heavily invested in the system continuing exactly as it was. 

People who have never lived in the UK, and more specifically London, cannot comprehend the level of obsession over property here. The game of monopoly has been downloaded like a virus into people’s psyches, dictating the majority of their thoughts, actions and, of course, political views. Owning a house in London has been sold to people as their only chance to get out of the rat race. People slave away in horrible jobs decade after decade just to get that little bit closer to finally owning their home and freeing themselves of their MORTGAGE. No amount of reasoning can ever convince the average hard-working Londoner that this “MORTUARY ENGAGEMENT” was always meant to be just that: a bondage of slavery until death do you part. People here even work towards the “dream” that they can play the “property game” themselves, by owning lots of houses and becoming a landLORD, thus continuing the vicious cycle of climbing house prices and ever-increasing rent (thanks to, in great part, desperate EU workers further driving up prices). Ironically, all concern with the destruction of community was absent back then, when destroying the community meant driving up house prices. Nor could people be reasoned with about the inevitability of the bubble bursting: the mere suggestion always sent heads digging deeper into the sand, until echoes of their aggressive, self-defensive muffle became almost inaudible: “the housing bubble can never burst in London, it never has and it never will!”. Don’t be fooled by this false racist vs. progressive ideology shoved down your throats. It is reminiscent of George Bush junior’s pleas: “if you’re not for invading Iraq, you’re a terrorist”. = If you want out of the EU, you’re a racist. (and it must be true, because Obama wanted in!)”

If you think you may be guilty of any of the sentiments I’ve written about, please try to consider things from another perspective. Have some humility, some self-respect, and be grateful for those leave voters who came through the bullying and, against the odds, are still trying to make headway in freeing you from the dark world vision of the EU. We are not stupid or simple because of our vote, and the matter of EU membership is not simple, it is in fact very complicated and precarious."



Added: More on TTIP, the pending US-EU massive free trade deal opposed by Europeans from all walks of life:
"The European elite’s contempt for the people of Europe has manifested itself with brutal clarity in their imposition of austerity on the populations of Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Latvia, Ireland and Portugal, as well as their drive to conclude the TTIP [US-EU trade deal] negotiations in the face of such widespread public opposition."

6/26/16, "We thought the best thing about Brexit would be avoiding TTIP - but the fight isn't over yet," UK Independent, John Hilary, Exec. Dir., War on Want 

"The referendum decision to leave the EU opens a new chapter in the UK’s trade relations with the single European market. The Leave vote also introduces a new phase in the political life of the UK, as many of the powers that had previously been transferred to Brussels will now be brought back to Westminster – including, most importantly, the trade and investment policies that determine our relations with all other countries around the world.

Since the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda in 2000, the EU has committed itself to the most extreme programme of neoliberal capitalism in its trade agreements with other countries, relentlessly promoting the interests of big business at the expense of labour, society and the environment.

Nowhere has this agenda been more apparent than in the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently under negotiation between the EU and USA. The fact that unelected EU bureaucrats have pursued TTIP in open defiance of public opposition was a standard complaint in every one of the referendum debates that I took part in, and in many serious comment pieces written on both sides.

Yet the TTIP agenda of permanent austerity, deregulation and free market fundamentalism is not an aberration on the part of Brussels. It is now the EU’s standard programme for all peoples, within and outside Europe. Breaking with this model became a determining issue of the [Brexit] referendum for many on the left.

The Leave vote means that the British people have escaped being party to any future TTIP agreement as an EU member state. It is also highly doubtful that the TTIP project will be able to survive the UK’s withdrawal on top of all the other shocks that have hit the EU-US negotiations over the past few months. Brexit may well be the last straw that broke the TTIP camel’s back.

At the same time, it has always been clear that leaving the EU would bring us face-to-face with a UK political elite that has consistently championed the most extreme neoliberal positions on the European spectrum. As many have correctly pointed out, a new UK government could still attempt to sign us up to the principles of TTIP at a future date.

And this is the most important point for those of us who have devoted years of our lives to the cause of trade justice. We must now ensure that the British people’s decision to reject the EU and its neoliberal programme cannot be twisted into a mandate to pursue the same agenda unilaterally in the UK. 

The Leave vote is a rejection of the political caste in this country, as most commentators already agree. The fact that voters in many traditional Labour strongholds came out for Brexit must be seen as a call for a new kind of politics based on decisions that benefit the many, not the few. A mere changing of the guard in Downing Street will never be enough to satisfy that demand.

EU leaders must themselves take stock of why the British electorate defied expectations and swung behind a Brexit vote. The European elite’s contempt for the people of Europe has manifested itself with brutal clarity in their imposition of austerity on the populations of Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Latvia, Ireland and Portugal, as well as their drive to conclude the TTIP negotiations in the face of such widespread public opposition.

Rumours coming out of Brussels suggest that EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström intends to deny national parliaments their promised vote on the EU-Canada trade deal, CETA.. This is just the latest in a series of anti-democratic decisions that EU leaders need to reconsider urgently if they do not wish to be responsible for the further disintegration of the EU.

The fight is on to secure justice, rights and democracy inside and outside the EU, to reject the appalling scapegoating of migrants that we have seen during the Brexit debate and to stand up for social justice for all peoples. Now is the time to put aside the divisions caused by the referendum and unite behind this common vision of a better world."

"John Hilary is Executive Director of War on Want"


Added: Oct. 2015 UK Guardian article on massive anti-TTIP movement in Germany and elsewhere in Europe:

Image, "Protesters gather to demonstrate against the TTIP trade agreement in Berlin on Saturday. Photograph: Axel Schmidt/Getty Images," via UK Guardian 
10/10/2015, "Berlin anti-TTIP trade deal protest attracts hundreds of thousands," UK Guardian, Chris Johnston
"Environmental groups, charities and opposition parties who organised protest against free trade deal between the EU and US say 250,000 people took part."
*US seen as bad guy in pending US-EU trade deal TTIP (see Uncle Sam in poster below)"



"Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Berlin on Saturday to oppose a planned free trade deal between the European Union and the United States that is claimed to be anti-democratic and to threaten food safety and environmental standards.

The environmental groups, charities and opposition parties that organised the protest claimed 250,000 people took part, while a police spokesman said 100,000 attended. Smaller protests were also held in other cities, including Amsterdam, with a rally due to be held in London on Saturday night at which shadow chancellor John McDonnell is scheduled to speak.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would create the world’s largest free-trade zone, encompassing some 800 million consumers, and harmonise regulation between the EU and North America in areas ranging from food safety law to environmental rules and banking regulations. It would mean that cars made in Britain could be sold in the US, for example, but opponents say it would water down important EU regulations.

The European commission reckons that the TTIP could boost the size of the EU economy by €120bn (£85bn) – equal to 0.5% of GDP – and the US economy by €95bn, or 0.4% of GDP, while the UK could be £10bn better off.

However, opposition has escalated over the past year in Germany and other European countries, with critics pointing out that the deal will give too much power to multinational companies at the expense of consumers and workers.

Negotiations have mostly been conducted in secret. Dieter Bartsch, the deputy leader of Germany’s parliamentary group for the Left party, said he was concerned about the lack of transparency: “We definitely need to know what is supposed to be being decided.”

The British government argues that the TTIP would boost trade and create jobs. Of the 3 million people who have signed an online petition calling on the European commission to abandon the deal, some 500,000 are from Britain.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said the petition showed that the EU did not have a public mandate for the agreement: “Everything that we know about this secretive trade deal shows that it is very little about trade and very much about enshrining a massive corporate power-grab.

The level of resistance in Germany has surprised chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, with Saturday’s rally underlining the challenge it faces to win public support for the deal.

In a full-page letter published in several German newspapers on Saturday, the economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, warned against scaremongering. “We have the chance to set new and goods standards for growing global trade, with ambitious standards for the environment and consumers, and with fair conditions for investment and workers. This must be our aim,” he wrote.

Ulrich Grillo, head of the BDI federation of German industries, said: “A fair and comprehensive free-trade deal promotes growth and prosperity in Europe. We should actively participate in the rules for world trade of tomorrow.”...

Wikileaks has released what it claims is the full intellectual property chapter of the TPP. Both the TTIP and TPP deals are still being negotiated."


Added: Trade deals TTIP (US and Europe) and TPP (US and Pacific countries) are both currently pending. Expert reviewer of TPP says

Massive trade deals like pending TPP result "in constant downward pressure on American wages."...

10/9/2015, "Wikileaks release of TPP deal text stokes 'freedom of expression' fears," UK Guardian, Sam Thielman in NY  

"(Expert TPP reviewer Michael) Wessel said that ultimately, the countries currently benefiting from increased outsourcing of jobs by American firms aren’t likely to see wages rise above a certain level. “If you look in other countries, Mexico and India and others – there’s been a rise in the middle class but there’s been stagnation for those we’re hoping to get into the middle class,” Wessel said. Companies are scouring the globe for countries they can get to produce most cheaply.”

That, he said, results in constant downward pressure on American wages. “Companies are not invested here the way we’d like them to; they’re doing stock buybacks and higher dividends,” Wessel continued. “They may yield support for the stock-holding class but it’s not creating jobs.”"...


Der Spiegel on TTIP: Protests against free trade deal TTIP now part of everyday life in Germany. Citizens say 'we're not merchandise' to be bought and sold in secret. Book, "The Free-Trade Lie," became bestseller in Germany in 2015:

"It's hard to know what drives politicians to sell out their people and their country." (5th par. fr. end) 
5/6/16, "The TTIPing Point: Protests Threaten Trans-Atlantic Trade Deal," Der Spiegel, Dinah Deckstein, Simone Salden, Michaela Schiebl

"An unprecedented protest movement of a scope not seen since the Iraq war in Germany has pushed negotiations over the TTIP trans-Atlantic free trade agreement to the brink of collapse. The demonstrations are characterized by a level of professionalism not previously seen."

"As the battle over TTIP was lost, Angela Merkel feigned resolution yet one more time. "We consider a swift conclusion to this ambitious deal to be very important," her spokesperson said on her behalf on Monday. And this is the government's unanimous opinion.

But the German population has a very different one. More than two-thirds of Germans reject the planned trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. And even in circles within Merkel's cabinet, the belief that TTIP will ever become a reality in its currently planned form is disappearing. 

That's because on Monday morning, Greenpeace published classified documents from the closed-door negotiations. Even if the papers only convey the current state of negotiations and do not document the end results, they still confirm the worst suspicions of critics of TTIP. 

The 248 pages show that bargaining is taking place behind the scenes, even in areas which the EU and the German government have constantly maintained were sacrosanct. These include standards on the environment and consumer protection; the precautionary principle, a stricter EU policy that sets high hurdles for potentially dangerous products; the legislative self-determination of the countries involved, etc. Even the pledge made on the European side that there would be no arbitration courts has turned out to be wishful thinking. So far, the Americans have insisted on the old style of arbitration court. 

The result is that Merkel's grandly staged meeting with US President Barack Obama in Hanover eight days earlier had been nothing more than a show-- one aimed at hiding the fact that the two sides are anything but united in their positions.

The leaks have resulted in a failed attempt to bypass 800 million European citizens as they negotiate the world's largest bilateral free trade agreement. From the very beginning, the government underestimated the level of resistance these incursions on virtually all aspects of life would unleash among the people.

What began as a diffuse discomfort over opaque backroom dealings grew into a true public initiative, especially in Germany. It was fueled by an international alliance of non-government organizations that has acted in a more professional and networked way than anything that has come before.

TTIP Protests a Part of Everyday Life
Three years after the beginning of negotiations, events protesting free trade agreements have become part of everyday life in Germany. In cities and towns, thousands of events are being held to express opposition to deals like TTIP, CETA, as the recently negotiated agreement with Canada is called, and TISA, an international deal covering trade in services. 

Here's a sample of what this looks like in just a few places. In the city of Mainz, 150 orchestra musicians play the protest song "We're not Merchandise," a reworked version of Ludwig von Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." In Darmstadt south of Frankfurt, 230 people in a packed hall grill candidates in the local election on the issue of free trade. Meanwhile, in Cologne, where there are traditional "dance into May" celebrations marking the arrival of May 1, a "Dance against TTIP" was even held.

In Bergisch Gladbach, a town located near Cologne, the city council approved a resolution opposing TTIP and CETA. A total of 310 cities, municipalities, counties, districts and regions have registered themselves with the Munich Environmental Institute as TTIP-free zones. 

So what is prompting thousands of people to use their spare time to study up on such complicated material as a free trade agreement? Or to voluntarily participate in workshops and discussions addressing the incomprehensible legalese used by the EU in such documents? Or to travel hundreds of kilometers to attend a protest?

Anyone seeking to better understand how Germany's protest culture has changed in recent years need only travel to the city of Münster. A room on the first floor of the Institute for Theology and Politics is full of dusty devotional objects commemorating protests of the past. There's a quote on the wall from Nelson Mandela as well as a Cuban flag; and on the shelf there's a yellowing binder with the words "Nicaragua 1979-1991" on it.

A New Protest Culture
On the first and third Tuesday of each month, the group Münster against TTIP meets here. Its members include people like Ute S., a 67-year-old retiree who worked as a civil servant for the federal government. These days, she spends about two hours a day surfing social networks and online publications for new information about CETA and TTIP. Or people like Stefanie Tegeler, 36, a political scientist, who says, "I have nothing against free trade, but I do have a fundamental problem with a lack of transparency." And people like Michael Beier, 49, a marketing expert who says: "I was never a political person, but I have found my movement here."

At this particular meeting, the group discusses the most recent TTIP protest in Hanover. Over 150 group members traveled on three buses to the protest, and most had never even attended one of the Tuesday meetings. "When they're needed, though, the people come," says Beier, "because they understand that TTIP is something that impacts all of us."

The new quality of the protests against TTIP has also turned marketing man Beier into an activist. Beier is pleading with people to leave their stage wagons and microphones at home. He says this is about keeping people on equal footing. "The people don't need show-masters anymore."

Thirty-five-year-old Jörg Rostek, who is typing the minutes from the meeting into his laptop, says, "What we are witnessing here is a new protest culture that is different from all the time-honored rituals."

Rostek is one of the founding members of Münster against TTIP, but he has also been active with the Green Party. He says that local politicians "have little time to delve into issues like TTIP," and that these gaps are now being filled by local initiatives. "We are thinking here in big contexts, we're working our way through highly complex circumstances, we're reading hundreds of pages and we're seeking out experts who can classify and explain things," says Rostek.

'Not Worthy of a Democracy'
Rostek says it's important for him to emphasize that he and the others at the table "aren't just against it." And he says they're not just fighting against the four letters, "but rather to ensure that democracy and European values survive." In that sense, the fight against CETA and TTIP also has nothing to do with unvarnished anti-Americanism, adds Stefanie Tegeler, who says that such sentiment isn't prevalent among her generation, anyway. "At the end of the day, the Canadian and American people are also fighting for the same rights," she says. "If we shared our knowledge, we could learn from each other." 

At the same time, at the other end of Germany, Greenpeace is going public with leaked documents from the secret TTIP negotiations. They make a huge splash in the country and leave many asking if the trade deal is now doomed. Late that afternoon, representatives of the non-government organization Mehr Demokratie, or Greater Democracy, a national group that advocates for an increase in the number of referendums held in Germany, hold a meeting in Munich. They want to hand out flyers at a village festival and also try to gain supporters for a referendum against CETA that is scheduled in Bavaria. The EU is planning to implement parts of the agreement even before national parliaments are provided with the opportunity to vote on it.

The German government's secrecy in its TTIP dealings is "not worthy of a democracy," says businesswoman Brigitte Grübler, 46. She's been joined at the meeting by the CEO of a mid-sized company as well as a former top Siemens executive. 

A large share of the recruits to the anti-TTIP movement come from the more educated parts of society, as indicated by a survey conducted by TNS Enmid, one of Germany's leading pollsters. 

These aren't professional troublemakers -- they're people who don't like to be taken for idiots. "The government has been withholding essential information," one of them chides. "I never would have been allowed to do that in my previous position as an executive."

Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder barely has a chance to enter into the festival tent before a flyer is passed into his hands. The politician with the conservative Christian Social Union party smiles amiably. Even the police attempt to be as polite as possible to the protesters. "If you need anything, just get in touch with us," the officer leading the police tells the protesters. "Good luck."

Broad Opposition

The police's own union has even joined forces in the protests against free trade, as has every other union that is a member of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB). They aren't alone. They are joined by the social welfare organization Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband. The German Cultural Council. Environmentalist organizations like BUND, NABU, WWF, NaturFreunde, the Environmental Institute and Greenpeace. Development organizations Bread for the World and Oxfam. Organizations critical of globalization like Attac, the citizen movement Campact, the consumer protection group Foodwatch, the German small farmers association and Mehr Demokratie.

In October, they all joined forces to hold a protest against TTIP and CETA in Berlin that drew people from all across the country. Some of the partners on the national level were even instigated by Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel. 

In order to counter claims of a lack of transparency in the trade negotiations, Gabriel invited representatives of major institutions to join a TTIP advisory board. But it didn't take long for disputes to emerge. The officials on the board complained that the Economics Ministry was largely representing the EU position and that critical voices were being brushed over. Slowly, those voices began to get louder -- representatives of the church exposed problems TTIP would create for fair trade, unions expressed concern about its impact on the working world and the head of the consumer advice center pointed to problems with food standards. "Until then, people had just been focusing on their individual issues. But now it was clear how many areas of life TTIP would permeate," says one member of the advisory board. A good number of those members then joined the anti-TTIP movement.

Around 250,000 people traveled to Berlin for the mass demonstration in what was the largest protest in Germany since the marches against the Iraq war in 2003

Disparaging a Movement
From the very beginning, politicians with both parties in the German coalition government -- the conservatives with the Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats -- sought to disparage the movement. In a debate about TTIP in the federal parliament, the Bundestag, CDU member Andrea Lämmel said, tersely, "We know how signatures are collected on the streets." 

Fellow party member Joachim Pfeiffer referred to the citizen movement Campact as being part of an "outrage industry." Those who have decided to hitch themselves to the cart of Campact, Attac and Foodwatch, are "simply constructed," Pfeiffer claimed.

The organization Lobbycontrol noted that media coverage of the protests had been oddly unbalanced, alleging that many news organizations sought to portray the peaceful protests in ways that somehow put them on the level of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Pegida marches. 

But none of the labels stuck -- neither the claims of ties to Pegida nor the suggestions by politicians and the business community that TTIP opponents were either notoriously anti-trade, anti-globalization, hysterical scaremongers or anti-American. Support among the American and German populations for TTIP has dropped considerably over the past two years before recently falling off the deep end.

Proponents argue that this is due to their opponents' efforts to make the debate an ideological one. "Organizations like Foodwatch and Campact are nothing more than professional protest companies that make money off people's fears and don't provide any factual input in the public debate about the TTIP," complains CDU politician Pfeiffer. 

A New Kind of Movement
As it turns out, the opposite is true. The growth of the anti-TTIP side has a lot to do with their use of arguments that are supported by studies or external expertise, which TTIP supporters have not been able to contradict.

The success of the TTIP opponents is closely tied to the professionalization of non-governmental organizations. NGOs like Greenpeace, Campact and Foodwatch have competent staffs and more than enough resources to order counter-assessments, hire experts, carry out actions. Their experts can analyze complicated trade papers and translate them into language that a lay person can understand. They are networked to one another, even internationally, and are adept at using social media. They force the release of information about laws and supply the public with internal documents whilst TTIP supporters insist on the confidentiality of the negotiations.

The fight against TTIP began with Pia Eberhardt. The Cologne resident works for the Brussels-based NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a group that monitors lobbyists. The economist had already gained some experience examining international arbitrage during her studies, so she took on the planned mechanism in the TTIP. When she discovered the powerful possibilities for legal action by businesses against states that it contained, she wrote a report and tried to establish contact with journalists. CEO simultaneously discovered that the European Commission in Brussels had eagerly met with business representatives in advance of the TTIP but not with representatives of civil society. The first big issues with the TTIP had been found: A lack of transparency, the prioritization of business and the establishment of parallel standards of justice.

German organizations quickly adopted the issue. In the spring of 2013, even before the European Council, the powerful EU body representing the leaders of the 28 member states, adopted the negotiating mandate for TTIP, the first NGOs signed onto TTIP Non-Negotiable network, an umbrella organization comprised of over 60 groups. 

Neither the business nor the political world noticed what was brewing. It had been a long time since trade policy had been a major topic for NGOs. But when it became clear that the US-Europe pact would exceed the framework set by all previous agreements, that changed. 

'In the US There Has to be a Corpse'
Thilo Bode, founder of the consumer protection agency Foodwatch and a former head of Greenpeace, didn't want to have anything to do with TTIP at first. But more and more sponsoring members pushed him to take it on. They wanted to know if European food sector standards were imperiled by TTIP. Bode read up on the subject and soon discovered the fundamental contradiction between the European precautionary principle and the aftercare principle.

"In Europe, nothing is allowed that is suspected of being hazardous to people's health," he says. "In the US, there has to be a corpse, then things are regulated by litigation." The next big TTIP subject was born.

Experienced campaigner Bode was hooked. In 2015, his book, "Die Freihandelslüge" (The Free-Trade Lie) became a bestseller. In it, Bode describes how political policy becomes subordinate to business interests and how the business world can use the so-called instrument of regulatory cooperation to intervene in legislation. 

"The book fell on fertile ground, because citizens continue to feel powerless, continually have less of a say and are bamboozled again and again," says Bode. The recent revelations only fuel that impression further: "In my already long career as an 'activist,' I have never experienced a political project in whose defense the government and the ministries have lied to us so unwaveringly and brazenly and so one-sidedly taken up the side of the corporations."

Greenpeace has been actively addressing the subject of trade since 1990. Their expert, Jürgen Knirsch, remembers with great fondness the two crates containing "Practice Safe Trade" condoms that he had to smuggle into the negotiation building during the world trade talks in Seattle. In the riots that happened there, he met the Harvard legal expert Lori Wallach, who is currently organizing the resistance against the TTIP in the US as part of her work for the citizens' protection organization Public Citizen. Knirch is well connected with the NGOs that focus on trade. "There is not a lot of competition between us, we exchange with each other and work together." The pooling of resources and splitting of work is another key element of the movement against TTIP.

Greenpeace is known for creating campaigns that are very media savvy, but nobody can mobilize people these days better than the citizen movement Campact. On their internet platform, people can start petitions or sign ones, and thus take their first step towards being politically active. With short explainer videos and jazzy calls to action it manages to bring even difficult subjects to people's attention. Campact also tries to get signatories to take action. 

Campact is the most powerful arm of the movement, this is where protests and protest materials are prepared. During the last elections for the European Parliament, they distributed 6.5 million fliers on voters' doors.

False Promises
"At first, TTIP was sold to us as providing growth and jobs," says spokesperson Jörg Haas. But this claim by proponents has been exposed piece by piece as fully over-exaggerated: The most optimistic studies by proponents predict a modest growth rate of 0.5 percent over a space of 10 years -- those are just five thousandths per year. "The TTIP leaks have now also dismantled the second story: that TTIP would establish high standards," Haas says.

The EU and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) first had to correct their growth predictions downward. Tufts University in Massachusetts had presented research in 2014 that a post-TTIP Europe would lose about 600,000 jobs by 2025 and -- depending on the country -- lead to a loss in personal income of between €€165 and €€5,500. 

Global Justice Now, a TTIP opponent group, recently used the Freedom of Information Act in the United Kingdom to force the release of one of the reports commissioned by the government there, which has been kept under wraps since 2013. In the report, researchers from the London School of Economics argued that the agreement contained many risks and brought few to no advantages. Prime Minister David Cameron held this devastating result secret -- and instead promoted TTIP to his citizens

The Controversy Will Stay
It's hard to know what drives politicians to sell out their people and their country. What's sure is that, while the politicians in charge may come and go, TTIP would remain for decades. International treaties are very hard to rescind.

But EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström still wants to go through one or two rounds of negotiations with the US before drawing a summary. Observers assume that the ultimate outcome will be a "TTIP Light," containing only the noncontroversial points, in order to save face for all of the people involved. 

At the same time, a complete cancelling of the agreement is not out of the question either. "A world without TTIP is possible," says Bernd Lange, a member of the Social Democrats and the head of the Trade Committee in the European Parliament. In Germany, there is no lack of politicians who would be happy enough if this tiresome subject would simply flame out. 

But that won't happen. Thilo Bode has now gotten to work on the CETA Agreement with Canada, which is close to being signed. He determined that the precautionary principle is hardly mentioned in the agreement draft. "The EU has sold us out a long time ago," says Bode. 

Now he wants to fight against it. He doesn't want to say how. It should be a surprise."


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