President Obama is reported to have pushed, during his last visit in Germany, for a quick adoption of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which he hopes to secure before leaving office in January 2017.
It should boost economies.
The TTIP aims at creating the biggest trade area in the world, by removing commercial barriers between the United States and the European Union. On paper, it should boost both economies and revive the job market, strained by the recent crisis. However, many European countries, among which United Kingdom, France, Greece, and Germany are not as enthusiastic as Obama about signing the agreement, which to enter into force needs to be ratified by all the 28 EU Member States.
The European civil society has reacted and many manifestations, protests, and petitions have been organized across the EU asking to stop the negotiations. And still, according to the estimate, the TTIP should bring annually € 119 billion into the economy: are we so wealthy to nonchalantly refuse so much money? Not quite. So what’s wrong in our European eyes with this agreement?
We are what we eat.
It is not about the fact that, contrary to universal beliefs, Pasta Bolognese is not a typical Italian dish. It is about the strict regulation that, not without steps back and forth for a long time, Europe has developed in terms of food safety: GMO and growth hormones are forbidden and the use of pesticides are strictly restricted. Considering their harm to human health, we would really like to maintain things as they are.
Better safe than sorry.
We really value our Precautionary Principle that foresees that a product, before being placed on the EU marked, needs to have been proven safe for human health and for the environment. In the US, the rule is that a product is safe until proven guilty of being harmful: We do not really cheer at the idea of buying products that we are not sure are safe. Additionally, after the leak of the TTIP documents by Greenpeace Netherlands, we are alarmed by the notable absence of the General Exception rule: this rule, approved 70 years ago by the WTO (World Trade Organisation), would allow Europe to derogate from imports in case the products would pose a risk to human health or to the environment.
More jobs? Not quite.
While supporters of TTIP enthuse about the millions of jobs that both the EU and the USA would gain, many analysts cast doubts about this idyllic scenario. Firstly, on the EU side, there is a concrete risk that many companies would move their manufacturing sites to the US, where Unions are weaker and job standards less stringent. It already happened with the merger between Fiat and Chrysler and we would not like to see it happen again and even more often. On top of that many solid studies show that both areas, EU, and US, might end up losing about 500.000 jobs each, with Europe particularly affected in the electric, coal and agricultural sectors.
Behind closed doors.
We are not a bunch of conspirators, but in general, we are skeptical toward what goes on behind closed doors and the whole TTIP negotiation has been conducted in total secrecy on the EU side. By reading the leaked documents, we understood why: while we were told that corporations were only consulted once, they were, in fact, kept informed and listened to constantly, while at the same time civil society organizations were involved little to nothing.So conspirators, no, but demanding transparency, yes.
To sum it up.
We like a booming economy and an increase in jobs and salaries like the next person, but we are not fully convinced that it will be achieved with the current draft of the TTIP. And even if this would be the case, we would appreciate that, when talking about human health, labor rights, and environment, the agreement would be based on the more protective set of rules rather than the more lax. We have struggled institute such regulations in Europe, and we are not ready to downgrade them just yet. #News #Foreign Policy #World Politics