Across the UK, thousands of local campaigners rallied a nation at the weekend in support of a Europe-wide action to raise awareness over a toxic transatlantic trade deal known as TTIP.
Among them, local residents Ruth Facey and Brian Garman joined members of the 38 Degrees local action group in Andover town centre. Ruth said: “It was great to establish a positive open dialogue with concerned members of the public and to unravel misconceptions that surround an issue that poses such a major European concern.”
TTIP, the TransAtlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, is a deal currently being brockered behind closed doors by EU and US government trade departments. If agreed by Brussels and ratified by Westminster campaigners say that TTIP will allow corporations to sweep away regulations and challenge future protections to public services, worker’s rights, the environment, and food safety and standards. TTIP would threaten minimum wage legislation, expose public services like the NHS to hungry prospectors, sow the seeds for GM agriculture, and open environmentally sensitive areas like the region’s Test Valley up to corporate exploitation.
In particular, campaigners cite a contentious clause, the inter-state dispute settlement (ISDS) that will empower companies to sue governments whenever national policy decisions impinge on profits and corporate best-interests. In practice ISDS will disenfranchise communities from due democratic process and lock-in privatisation of public services.
Brian said: “Under this deal people and people’s lives will be meaningless in the face of corporate profit.” Ruth agrees: “This will allow big business to pick apart and profit from many social structures in this country that we currently take for granted, regardless of its impact on us.”
Nathan Rossiter from Upcycled antiques is equally sceptical. He fails to see the proposed benefits to small business. Nathan adds: “This deal will only encourage a lack of diversity in global business markets handing significant advantage to large corporations. In my opinion, TTIP could only exist at considerable cost to individuals, and to the growth and prospects of all small businesses.”
Susannah Compton, Campaigns Manager at 38 Degrees is equally adamant: “This matters,” she said. “Imagine a world where the profits of healthcare companies dictate how we help the sick and elderly. Or a world where global corporations drag us through the courts if they don’t like our laws. That’s the reality if this deal goes through.”
Thanks to 38 Degrees the Andover campaign was joined by thousands of like-minded citizens nationwide. The sense of inertia, mirrored in towns and cities across the country, has left much to reflect and build upon. Brian said: “There is a real sense that this is a huge challenge; a corporate assault on our very democracy and freedoms.” He adds, “the ice has only just broken and there is still a lot of work to do.”
For more information, or to sign the 38 Degrees petition against TTIP visit: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/petition-ttip
Alternatively email your MEP and ask them to stop TTIP now: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-meps