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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fight to stop massive US-EU trade deal TTIP may not be over with Brexit vote. We're now face to face with UK political elite which has same contempt for us as EU elites do-UK Independent, John Hilary

"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: TTIP (US and Europe) and TPP (US and Pacific countries) are both currently pending massive trade deals. 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.”"...


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