By Sol Trumbo Vila, February 2015
The experience of civil society organizations working on trade and investment since the late 90s and early 2000s (well connected within the Seattle to Brussels Network), added the necessary expertise to expose the real character of the TTIP. It is not about trade or jobs; it is about strengthening the capacity of corporations to dominate the policy-making process. Anti-austerity movements, strong in southern Europe and with allies in the centre and the north (such as the Alter Summit, Blockupy and D1920), were the first ones pointing out the dangers of the TTIP.
Soon other constituencies joined the efforts to stop the TTIP. Environmental and farmers groups are highly concerned about the TTIP impeding the capacity of democratically elected governments to ban the introduction of GMOs and fracking on their land. Groups defending the right to data privacy and the freedom of the internet quickly understood the unprecedented power that the TTIP would give multinational internet service provider corporations to legislate in their favour before the interests of citizens. Consumer protection groups raised their concerns about the implications for the regulation of drugs and food products. And the list of outraged constituencies grows with time. A European Citizens Initiative (ECI) organized by a coalition of German organizations reached the necessary minimum 1 million signatures in a few weeks. Now 1.4 million have been collected and the coalition aims to have the biggest ECI in EU history.
The 2nd and 3rd of February, more than 100 representatives of European civil society gathered in Brussels for the 3rd Multi-sectorial Strategy meeting on TTIP. Plenary sessions and Working groups along strategic considerations were organized.
Some highlights of the meeting:
- There are active national campaigns against TTIP in almost all EU member states, including most of eastern Europe.
- Different strategies are being developed at different levels: European Parliament, Local Authorities, Small and medium-size companies, European Citizens Initiative, Communication and Campaigning to the general public, Assessment of the implications of the Treaty to the Global South and Global Day of Action against Free trade Agreements (18th of April).
- There is fluid coordination with civil society organizations in the United States. For the Global Day of Action connections with counterparts from Asia, Latin America, Africa and Oceania are being developed (some of these regions currently have their own free trade agreements with the US being discussed).
What is at stake now in the negotiations?
Since November 2014 we have entered a new phase: the new European Commission took office with Cecilia Malmström becoming the new Trade Commissioner, and the European Parliament (EP) has decided to prepare a resolution on the TTIP, to be voted in the fully plenary in mid-May.
The main aspects of the Treaty are ISDS (Investment State Dispute Settlement Mechanism) and Regulatory Cooperation.
There has been strong opposition to ISDS in many countries, with several trade union confederations openly opposing ISDS and several governments opposing ISDS in its current form (such is in France). A possible resolution on ISDS could be voted in the EP in mid-March already.
A comprehensive campaign against Regulatory Cooperation is still on the making. Several CSO such as SOMO, FinanceWatch, Corporate Europe Observatory and WEED are taking the lead to monitor the regulatory cooperation aspect of the negotiations.
Global Day of Action – 18th of April.
Organizations and social movements from all over the world are preparing a Global Day of Action against Free Trade Agreements. In the European context the day will accentuate the opposition to TTIP. An international coordination group is working on the Global Call for action, setting up the website, and developing a communication strategy. During February the main elements of the Day of Action will be made public.
This day is a strategic opportunity to raise awareness about the real nature and the interests behind TTIP, CETA (Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement, between EU and Canda), TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) and other agreements that are being negotiated in secret. The Day of Action will expose the systematic implications of these agreements and others that will affect other regions of the world. It is a unique opportunity to galvanize the work developed during the past decades globally by hundreds of constituencies to defend food sovereignty, for the commons, to defend our social and labour rights, our lands, internet freedom and to reclaim democracy.
The Day of Action will call for decentralized actions across the five continents and will welcome a diversity of tactics and solidarity actions from across the world. Previous experiences have demonstrated that decentralized calls for action are the most effective strategy to ensure massive participation and the empowerment of those constituencies with little organizational capacity.
Stay tuned to the Alter Summit to know more about the Day of Action and how to join this historical process.