TTIP : A Corporate Lobbyist Wet Dream and the Destruction of Democracy

13th August 2015 / EU, United Kingdom

The TTIP represents a massive attack on the sovereignty of democratically elected governments; it will be irreversible. Attempts to harmonise standards between the EU and the US are likely to hit hard-won protections on food and chemical safety (eg in cosmetics, insecticides and pesticides), the environment, and workers’ rights. US agribusiness is pressing hard for Europe to import currently illegal GM products, and meat that does not conform to EU standards, such as chlorine-washed chicken and cattle raised with growth hormones.

While the corporate agenda for TTIP is broad and often issue-specific, big business is united in what it wants to see at the core of the agreement: excessive rights for foreign investors and regulatory cooperation. These issues would further skew EU and US politics in favour of capital and transnational corporations and threaten any future regulation that limits big business profits – be it in food standards, chemicals approval, or rules on production methods (for our safety), to name but a few.

The threat of litigation against states which pass laws in the public interest that could impact on corporation profits is particularly insidious. Already, Quebec has been sued for deciding to ban fracking, and tobacco company Philip Morris is suing the Australian government for trying to protect public health by legislation on the marketing of cigarettes. Germany is being sued because of its policies on nuclear power; Slovakia’s public health system is being challenged by commercial interests. Such cases could become commonplace, with profits being placed firmly above people, and commercial interests overriding national law.

Who do you think should be writing the terms of the huge trade deal between the EU and the US that’s currently being negotiated? Politicians? European citizens? Or corporate lobbyists, paid millions of Euros a year to push a big business agenda in Brussels?

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David Cameron has promised to fire “rocket boosters” under TTIP that he believes could be worth £10bn to the British economy without actually asking British citizens in any way, shape or form of the merits of an agreement that the public in particular, are fully excluded from.

This cancerous deal would put the NHS at risk of being sold off to American health companies which has always been a Tory wet dream. What a dreadful state the American healthcare system is in – a cesspool of corruption from top to bottom. It costs more than double the NHS with poorer outcomes. Labour has not defended either the NHS or anything else for that matter when it comes to TTIP, demonstrating that all politicians are lining to have their pockets, well, lined.

Following the appointment of the unelected Jean-Claude Juncker at the head of the European Commission, a further 27 unelected commissioners have been appointed, for the next five years, to their powerful posts in the European Commission. These unelected officials, who do not represent citizens of Europe are the TTIP negotiators.

And who did the European Commission meet in 695 closed door meetings on TTIP. Well, 92% corporate lobbying groups and just 4% public interest groups.

Big pharma accounted for nearly 17% of all meetings and big finance 11%, let alone other industries.

And who are these companies? They are household names such as; coca-cola, Shell, BT, KPMG, Orange, Renault, BMW, Ford, Volvo, Pfizer, GSK, Novartis, Roche, Dow, Bayer, DuPont, Nestle and Danone to name just a few.

The Trade Commissioners and their staff are meeting public interest groups just 20 times for every 100 times they meet with private sector lobbyists. The largest lobbying groups with the largest funding comes from agribusiness, telecoms and IT, Pharmaceuticals and big finance.

1 in 5 lobbying the EU trade department are not in the EU’s transparency register.

TTIP lobbying has come mainly from Western Europe and America with Eastern Europe not represented at all. Hardly an all inclusive round table of countries.

And what of citizen input into the process. The European Citizens’ Initiative “Stop TTIP” reached a new record with 2 million signatories, this is the largest European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) since the introduction of the instrument in 2012. It was rejected flatly by the European Commission.

Resistance to TTIP is fierce in Germany, with tens of thousands joining demonstrations across the country, a spokesman for lobby group Attac Germany said. Demonstrations in other European cities also drew protesters, including 2,000 in Brussels, 1,000 in Madrid and Helsinki, and in Warsaw and Prague.

day of action last April consisted of over 700 separate events, including rallies, marches and public statements. All were organized by a variety of civil rights movements in the EU and across the Atlantic. Literally hundreds of thousands of people went out their front doors and protested.

Thousands marched again in Britain backed by unions, War-on-Want, Unite and other groups – all falling at the feet of silent politicians – the people elected to represent it’s citizens.

The EU does not have the public mandate to continue this deal. People across Europe are standing up to protect labour rights, environmental standards and vital public services from TTIP, but alas, all falls on deaf ears.

To illustrate the point of citizens concerns about TTIP and the NHS we can take the example of Slovakia, where a bilateral trade deal was signed with the Netherlands, leading to the privatisation of the health insurance sector. Today the new government, which had campaigned against the move and promised to renationalise the sector, is sued by a Dutch company called Achmea. After the renationalisation, “Achmea took it to an arbitration court and they won €29.5 million.

Let’s take another example of where the general public were right and politicians were wrong. The February 15, 2003 anti-war protest was a coordinated day of protests across the world in which people in more than 600 cities expressed opposition to the imminent Iraq War. It was part of a series of protests and political events that had begun in 2002 and continued as the war took place.  Social movement researchers have described the 15 February protest as “the largest protest event in human history.

According to BBC News, between six and eleven million people took part in protests in up to sixty countries over that weekend, other estimates range from eight million to thirty million.

And what a global catastrophe that turned out to be.

David Cameron said himself “I believe that secret corporate lobbying goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest.” (so embarrassed by this statement the Tories have taken down the link HERE from their website) (but for your convenience, you can read HERE instead).

And, so right he is. Pity that he has turned out to be nothing more than a mediocre public relations executive representing corporate power and not the people who elected him.

A study into the state of democracy in Britain over the last decade warns it is in “long-term terminal decline” as the power of corporations keeps growing, politicians become less representative of their constituencies and disillusioned citizens stop voting or even discussing current affairs.

This study concluded “Corporate power is growing, partly as a result of wider patterns of globalisation and threatens to undermine some of the most basic principles of democratic decision-making” (think TTIP) and “The proportion of major UK corporations which have direct connections to MPs is many times greater than that in other democracies” (think lobbyists)

Civil society obviously gets in the way of how our political system works today.



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