David Cameron told delegates at the G20 conference last week that he was willing to fire ‘rocket boosters’ under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. By now familiar to many, the TTIP is an EU-US Free Trade Agreement that aims to establish increased trade between the European Union and United States and promote economic growth. Cameron claims that the agreement could lead to a £10 billion spurt in the British Economy, so naturally he will support the agreement.
The agreement has riled people across the UK. First and foremost, the whole thing has been kept pretty hushed up, with the public only finding out about it through the German green party leak in March this year. When something this big is kept that quiet, people start asking questions. Did our leaders know that fury would be the only response to the agreement? Perhaps they acknowledge that the TTIP is going to screw over millions of people in the interest of ‘the greater good’, where the greater good is a booming economy in a furious country.
But why are people so angry? Can an international trade agreement really threaten the general public all that much? A primary concern of anti-TTIPers is that EU trading standards will be altered to match those of the U.S. The problem here is that the States have pretty lax policies when it comes to food and hygiene standards. They don’t care if their beef is pumped full of cancer-inducing growth hormones or if their tomatoes weigh 3kg each because they are inflated with pesticides.If we match these standards, we’ll see a significant difference in the products we are consuming, and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health for our economy.
“The States have pretty lax policies when it comes to food and hygiene standards. They don’t care if their beef is pumped full of cancer-inducing growth hormones or if their tomatoes weigh 3kg each because they are inflated with pesticides.”
Perhaps the biggest issue with the TTIP is the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS.) This legislation means that if a government introduces a policy which can affect the profits of a private company, that company can take action to regulate this. Effectively, it means that multinational corporations can sue governments, thus having almost free reign over the democratic process.
In the UK, ISDS is terrifying because it directly threatens the NHS. If British pharmaceutical companies argue that the NHS, being public sector, is stealing business from them, then they can basically sue the government. The government then has two choices – either pay out an extortionate amount of money to the private company in question, or privatise the NHS so that it is a level playing field. When it comes to giving large sums of money upfront, the UK doesn’t exactly have a great track record of obliging, so it’s pretty obvious which option is the more likely, especially given that the likelihood of the NHS being privatised is fairly high as it stands.
“Effectively, it means that multinational corporations can sue governments, thus having almost free reign over the democratic process.”
It’s not just British protesters arguing the injustice of this agreement that are opposed to the TTIP. Putin hates it. With trade predicted to increase by 50% according to the European Commission, it’s no wonder Putin’s trembling.
One inarguable ‘benefit’ of the TTIP is that if the EU establishes free trade with the U.S, it EU-U.S relations will be at an all time high. This means that Putin would lose his leverage over the EU, as the TTIP slashes right through his agenda to slice relations between the EU and the States.
Now we find ourselves in a horrible paradox. We don’t want the TTIP because it’s going to affect our living standards, but it will improve our economy and piss off Putin. Unfortunately, it’s not even a case of us being able to choose which we prioritise more. This agreement is completely out of our hands, and all we can do now is sit tight and hope that we don’t get screwed over by the people who have the power to do so.
Image by AFP/William West via rt.com