By Mark Dearn, senior trade campaigner at War on Want
In the space of two years, trade – via the secretly negotiated EU-US deal TTIP – has gone from esoteric policy interest, to the heart of the biggest social movement in Europe for a generation, to an often misunderstood feature of a vitriolic referendum campaign.
TTIP and its parallel EU-Canada deal CETA have caused outrage across Europe. TTIP in particular often grabbed headlines during EU referendum campaigning.
And in a post-Brexit UK soon to be shorn of trade deals including its World Trade Organisation country commitments, trade will be front and centre of new policy-making for the foreseeable future.
Many will now rejoice that for the UK TTIP is dead in the water. Indeed, Brexit may be the killer blow to the deal across Europe. But while the UK has escaped TTIP’s corporate clutches as an EU member state, if the deal does survive the big picture will be a little more complex.
Key to understanding why TTIP may still have an impact on the UK is appreciating the extent to which the deal is intended to enable the EU and USA’s neoliberal agenda to be the template for world trade.
Defeated in previous attempts to secure a pro-business but anti-people and planet deal, the EU and USA simply decided to sidestep multilateralism to impose their will on the rest of the world.
As a secret meeting between the European Commission and Exxon Mobilrevealed, the Commission has been shamelessly colluding with the world’s biggest corporations to assure them that through TTIP they can force countries outside the deal (“third countries”) to accept its terms: the eradication of social, health and environmental protections, the locked-in privatisation of public services, and a private justice system so corporations can sue governments for any policies hitting their profits.
As the head of policy at the organisation which wrote the official report into TTIP told a House of Lords committee on TTIP: “They [third countries] obey those rules or they do not export [into Europe], just like Switzerland.” And now, the UK…