I regularly get emails from SumOfUs and 38 Degrees asking me to sign petitions, usually ones that are similar to ones I’ve signed previously but not always. For the last six (ish – perhaps longer) months I’ve been receiving emails about the proposed Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and Europe; a free trade agreement that multinational corporations are pushing heavily. Although I have skim read and signed a petition previously, last week I received an email inviting me to join in the consultation that has been organised by the European Commission regarding this proposal. This meant I actually had to research in a bit more depth as it required a written submission. And what I found out was pretty scary. A good place to start is to watch this video which has been compiled to try and explain in simple terms, what the proposal is and what some effects of it passing might be.
The fact that all the talks have been held secretly and without any media presence means that joe public are completely ignorant of the fact that this partnership might be happening and how it might affect us. There has been virtually nil coverage in mainstream media although the Guardian did write an article on it last year that you can find here if you’re interested.
If you have watched the video, you might agree with me that the most sinister part of this is the ISDS, standing for the Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement, this is the part of the deal that lets corporations sue governments. Let’s just take a minute to let that sink in…a legally binding agreement that would allow corporations to sue governments if a decision that is made that they deem to not be in their best interests or to affect their profits. This is nothing short of insane. I just can’t get my head round it. Governments need to be making decisions with the best interests of their citizens at heart, not because they are trying to avoid being sued by big business. The cynics out there might say that governments are already not keeping the best interests of the people at the forefront; the privatisation of the NHS, scandal of banking bonuses and the current war on fracking being prime examples. But even if that’s the case, if this all goes through, things would get so much worse. There are already ISDS provisions in place in some places around the world and according to Friends of the Earth (who have compiled a report stating what they see as the risks of the TTIP going ahead) famous cases include attempts by Vattenfall to reverse Germany‘s decision to shut down its nuclear plants, Lone Pine attacking Québec‘s fracking ban, oil and gas giant Chevron evading compliance with its legal obligation to clean up the health and environment damages resulting from its operations in Ecuador, and Philip Morris challenging tobacco regulations in Australia and Uruguay.
It’s just absolute madness and we don’t need more of these provisions being put into place; all I can think of is fracking against the will/want of the country, GM crops and just more and more bad news appearing every day. I don’t know whether the state of affairs is worse than it was 25, 50, 100 years ago or if it just seems worse because of our 24 hour a day constant reporting and lightning quick transfer of information. But I do know that we need to fight against big business. They can’t get away with just doing what they want, regardless of how it affects the environment and the people that live in it. I know I quoted the Lorax before but all I can think of is the part of the story in which the Once-ler declares
Well I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you
I intend to go on doing just what I do!
And, for your information, you Lorax, I’m figgering
on biggering, and BIGGERING and BIGGERING AND BIGGERING
We simply cannot just sit back and let them get on with making money and doing as they please; we need to act. Right now, the only way I know how is to spread the word regarding the TTIP, to join in the consultation and to find a way to make a noise. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of big faceless multinational corporations, but we need to join together and actually stand up to them. To protect the fields around us, our rights and our children’s future.
You can take part in the consultation right now. It won’t take more than ten minutes of your day. A small price to pay.