Today there is talking a lot about the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), a treaty that is being negotiated now between the United States and the European Union. This treaty is seeking increased trade and investment between the EU and the US creating a large transatlantic market to generate new opportunities internally that greatly benefit all members. But is it really a deal that would benefit all? It is something that many people put into question.
United States and the European Union account for about 60% of world GDP, a third of international trade in goods and services and 800 million consumers. The TTIP lead to the “biggest free trade area in the world” in the words of former President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso. Also, according to preliminary calculations, help to raise the annual GDP in both blocks 0.5% of GDP in ten years to get going or build up in industrialized countries. Critics like the Green Group in the European Parliament, reminded that such predictions are often overly optimistic, if not change sign. Others, such as the economist Susan George, relativize the impact: “The value of speaking [increase GDP by 120,000 million euros] is equivalent to a cup of weekly coffee per citizen in 2027, in the best” .
The goal is to get an agreement with three key components: market access, elimination of tariffs and rules that both sides have to meet. These three elements were negotiated simultaneously and must be part of a single agreement. The removal of regulatory barriers to trade and the improvement of standards leading to significant in each of these components results and effective and reciprocal opening of the respective markets are some of the objectives to be achieved in this treaty.
Although it has been regarded as “much more than a free trade agreement,” the first touchstone of TTIP will check if you get the total tariff dismantling, which championed Obama’s last summit with the EU. The average applied tariffs are already low: the EU imposed on goods is 5.2%; to the contrary, it is just 3.5%. But averages hide some significant divergences still: load much EU imports of motor vehicles or processed foods; US penalizes the acquisition of railway equipment and reaches the end protectionism in some agricultural products (snuff is the tariff to 350%).
Is the protection of the rights will be lowered? This is the immediate question that has arisen in numerous and disparate groups TTIP base idea: approval of rules and administrative requirements. European standards are more restrictive in transgenic crops or the use of growth hormones, nutritional supplements or massive use of antibiotics in livestock, as they are in the privacy of the data, holdings of hydrocarbons technique fracking or labor issues. The European Commission insists that this is a red line that is not going to pass, that is the mandate received by the Twenty-eight of the EU. But only check texts allow.
The truth that the negotiation is taking a very opaque way between the European Commission and the US The European Commission is publishing although much of the data, is hiding a lot, so it becomes very difficult to have a concrete idea of how the negotiations are going. After the negotiations, must be approved by each of the European states, 55% if it fails, the treaty must be canceled and rewritten. In any case states may make changes to the project, it will be approved at 100% or be surrendered.
The chief negotiators argue that they have been overwhelmed by the public’s attention to the talks, a weak justification given the precedent of the ACTA anti-piracy regulation that derailed in Washington and Strasbourg, among other things, by the opacity with which conducted. The truth is that the European Commission took over a year to make the EU Council allow him to publish the negotiating mandate, when this had already been leaked online. The same happened with other documents exchanged in the negotiations.
The protection of foreign investment is one of the objectives of TTIP. And it proposes the creation of an arbitration tribunal to allow companies to ignore the legal system of each country and go directly to the instance when you create a State skipped agreed in the treaty, with the possibility of imposing huge fines . US insists on this point, recalling that a safeguard so usual in other bilateral agreements and support which aims to penalize discriminatory expropriation or their firms treatments. But no less than France and Germany have already submitted their ample reserves to the Commission before some precedents in which multinationals have imposed their criteria before lawmakers through these systems of investor-State resolution conflict (in English, ISDS ). They argue that the level of investment protection equivalent to both sides of the Atlantic, so that national legal systems should be used. Faced with criticism, the Commission calls for an as transparent and limited system possible.
For states there are two primary risks: on one hand the absolute blurring under the TTIP and eventual failure of the neoliberal apply different statements that beat in the TTIP policies. The characteristics of a treaty like this, dependent plus the European Union, would materially impossible to change in the event that new majorities asked modification. Secondly, the privatization of justice, to submit all disagreements on foreign investments to private arbitration proceedings.
The five biggest risks for European citizenship would be:
- Loss of labor rights, since the US has signed only 2 of the 8 core ILO Conventions.
- Limitation of the rights of collective representation of workers.
- Forgetting the precautionary principle on technical standards and industrial standards.
- Privatization of public services, by establishing a short list of those that can not be privatized.
- Risk of wage reduction.
On the other hand, the five greatest threats to American citizens would be:
- Increased dependence on oil if consumed restricting the use of less polluting fuels.
- labeling transgenically modified products.
- Elimination of rules on more stringent financial markets in the US today
- Elimination of independent evaluations of medicines not produced in the United States.
- Elimination of the rules of national preference in public contracts.
It should also be noted that there are two other treaties being negotiated in parallel. On the one hand the agreement for the liberalization of services in the framework of the World Trade Organization, whose aspects are still more hidden than the TTIP. The second would be equivalent to this treaty being negotiated by US with its Asian partners.