Sector News
TTIP Deal Draws Further Protests Across EU

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has sparked controversy since details of the deal were published last year. Recent EU-wide protests over the deal have yet again brought it to public attention. We wrote in TTIP: EU seeks widespread access in US procurement markets last November about what the agreement would mean for the public procurement sector in the US and EU.

In our previous article, we wrote about how the EU planned to push for access to state and local procurement programmes in all goods and across all sectors. Such a deal would give European firms access to a potential market of around $463 billion. The EU’s aim, according to French trade minister Nicole Briqc, is to replace “Buy American” programmes with a “Buy Transatlantic” initiative. The deal would also slash trade tariffs between the US and EU, as well as remove regulatory trade barriers.

However, doubts have been raised about the effect of the deal. Groups in the US have said that a deal would undermine local decision-making and efforts to promote local economies. Meanwhile, there are concerns in Europe over the US’s insistence that EU adhere to similar standards in food safety, energy and other sectors.

Earlier this month thousands of people across Europe protested against what could become the world’s biggest free trade deal. According to an article in EurActiv, a spokesperson for lobby group Attac Germany said that tens of thousands had taken to the streets in Germany to show opposition towards TTIP. Others joined demonstrations in Brussels, Madrid, Helsinki, Warsaw and Prague.

Demonstrations come as US and EU officials resumed TTIP negotiations between April 20 and 24. European campaigners claim that secret negotiations will result in a deal that will benefit corporations and sell consumers short. A recent YouGov survey in Germany revealed that only 26 percent of people believed TTIP would be good for the country, compared to 43 percent who believed it would harm the country. According to an article in EuroNews, many believe the deal would threaten health and safety standards in food, and open the door to genetically modified foods. In Austria, protesters claimed the pact would damage the nation’s agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors.

One of the more controversial aspects of the deal, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause, which will allow companies to sue governments in tribunals above national law, has drawn particularly strong opposition.

An article on Common Dreams website says analysts have warned that TTIP will dramatically expand corporate power over legislators. They also claim the deal will burden lawmakers with heavy procedures and red tape, as well as encouraging a race to the lowest possible standards.

As negotiations resume, the potential impacts of TTIP on businesses and consumers will continue to be discussed in the public eye.