WHEN THE G8 met in Fermanagh we were told that this gang of austerity hawks, war criminals and corrupt politicians where going to “fire up the world” economy. Their solution? A free trade agreement between the EU and US that would give corporations even more power to ride roughshod over workers and the environment.
The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Package (TTIP) contains a range of measures which, with the vote of the US and EU elites, would sign away gains won by the trade union movement, environmentalists and political activists. This package Is the latest in a long line of free trade agreements that actually restrict the ability of working class people to defend their own interests against that
of the super-rich elite and the political establishment.
The Investor-State Dispute Mechanism built into the package would allow investors the right to claim settlements or damages from foreign governments and public bodies for loss of future profits. In effect,this means that any measure forced upon a state to re-balance the unequal distribution of wealth will be made illegal. Companies’ profits at the expense of workers will no longer be protected nationally but internationally.
A treaty between France and Egypt allowed Veolia to sue a city in Egypt over increasing the minimum wage. The French utility company is suing the city of Alexandria for €82 million in compensation as local people used the revolution to take back the use of public bins and increase workers’ wages. Similar treaties with the US have allowed Lone Pine
Resources to sue Quebec over its ban on fracking, and Philip Morris to challenge Australia and Uruguay’s restrictions on cigarette packaging.
US health companies will even have the right to sue a future UK government in secret courts if politicians try to reverse privatisation. TTIP will enshrine an unassailable right of companies to exert control internationally against the interests
of their opponents. Further control of the internet through the back door.The attempts by governments and major corporations to control content on the internet and online privacy through the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US and the Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement (ACTA) elsewhere had been stopped in their tracks. TTIP’s Intellectual Property section brings all these attacks back onto the agenda again as they seek to restrict rights and content online. Job creation- a myth We are told that TTIP – through liberalising and opening up society to the further control of companies – would n actually generate millions of jobs on
both sides of the Atlantic. This is absolute nonsense. Previous free trade agreements have actually cost jobs and caused
untold misery. The North American Free Trade Agreement resulted in a net loss of 1 million jobs in the US.
The same companies who will benefit from massive increase in profits refuse to invest the substantial wealth they already control. US companies hold $7.9 trillion worldwide while their European counterparts sit on a €2 trillion cash pile. If even a fraction of this wealth was used we could eradicate the “debt crisis” and embark on a programme of public works which could provide decent housing, education and jobs for tens of millions. Instead the EU and the US government are seeking ways to increase the obscene wealth of big business.
Mass protest can tear up ttip The European and US governments are rattled by the protest movements against neo-liberal policies and fear the growing anti-austerity mood across both regions. 50,000 people in Germany protested against this bosses’ charter and it was only two years ago that ACTA was defeated by mass protests. While in the US the movement of low paid workers for $15 an hour is just scratching the surface of the anger at inequality in society. A movement of workers and young people could tear this package to pieces but also ensure that our public services, rights and environment are protected.