The transatlantic treaty would sweep away the national sovereignty, human rights and even the peace
Maite Mola: "It is necessary to force a referendum on the TTIP”
One of the main international debates of the Fiesta PCE 2014 has been devoted to the explanation and discussion of the reasons for rejecting the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between US and EU, but also to the organization and articulation of the offensive against those agreements that will drastically affect all the aspects of the European citizens’ lives. The negotiations between the European Commission and the United States - they go for the seventh round – have been managed opaquely, behind everyone's back, with the exception of the lobbies that are representing the interests of transnational corporations.
This is the reason why almost nobody knows what is involved in the treaty and also the need to bring it to light, as all the presents underlined.
A week before the Fiesta, the European Commission rejected the processing of the European Citizen Initiative that aimed to gather a million signatures against the TTIP. This treaty will mean “the entire deregulation of the market”, argued the vice-president of the Party of the European Left, Maite Mola. With this rejection the Commission wanted to shield the process of secret negotiations that, among other things, strengthen the capacity of action of the powerful multinational corporations over the national governments.
Maite denounced that they are trying to hide everything that lie under this transatlantic treaty “that really can finish in a mathematical way with the few remaining rights and public services”. She made references to the battles already won to prevent the fracking, which would go to hell in the case this treaty will be signed. In fact American and Canadian energy companies wish to implement hydraulic fracturing in León, Galicia and Asturias: "Collective agreements would become science fiction... and everything would be free market" alerted Mola.
The Vice President of EL insisted that people are not aware of what is being done and that "each one of us has to be militant against this treaty and explain it to everybody". The next step, she said, is to force a referendum -in countries where legislation allows it- to stop the treaty at the rear, as has already happened with the Treaty of the European Constitution.
Gilles Garnier, member of the direction of the French Communist Party and of the EL Executive, was convinced that the citizen mobilization would be able to roll back this treaty, “which is an attempted abduction of our rights as well as our public and social services". It would not be the first time. Garnier recalled not only the resounding NO that France gave to the Treaty of the European Constitution in 2005, but also the four times that the advocacy of French cultural exceptionality defeated attempts of domain and commoditization of French culture by the US industry. “If we have stopped it four times in the cultural field, also we can do it in other domains” he said.
The responsible for Europe of the PCF spoke about the hope that the organized struggle inspires against this agreement: "Thousand organizations, trade unions and social movements are working on the texts of the TTIP we have at our disposal". He called for an offensive strategy encouraging elected representatives to submit motions against the treaty wherever they are "by saying that we do not want they decide this without us", like it has been done in France and in Spain.
But the enemy is strong and powerful. The French Communist paused on the dangers of the extraterritoriality of US law, as it has happened in the case of the leading French investment bank BNP Paribas that have been sanctioned by a US judge to the payment of 6.500 million euros, for having evaded the ban on financial transactions with countries subject to US trade sanctions such as Cuba, not to mention the vulture funds in Argentina.
Cuca Hernández, of the Platform “No to the TTIP”, also shared her optimism recalling the failed attempt to sign a similar multilateral treaty in the 90s. When it came to light it was paralyzed. She named it "the theory of the vampire": when the light hits it, people mobilize and the vampire disappears. To do this, the first step is to break the media silence. She also explained how easy is to dismantle the unfounded promises of economic growth. She used the example of the free trade treaty between the US, Canada and Mexico. Mexico lost its exportation capacity against the invasion of the North American products. And the working conditions get more precarious and the salary fell. Today in the “maquilas” the Mexican women workers live in poverty with very low wages and a minimal condition of security.
At this point, the representative in the debate of the Platform against the TTIP warned about the threat posed by the TISA (the Trade in Services Agreement) “by which workers become more merchandise allowing that a Polish worker could be hired in Poland to work to tighten the screws in a factory in Germany under the economic conditions and labour rights of their country of origin”.
Cuca insisted that states will lose their right to legislate on their territory, to canalize the water, etc… And they will also lose the possibility of appeal to the decisions of foreign judges when a corporation denounces a government when it considers that the legislation hurts their commercial interests.
On these private trials for the resolution of conflicts between corporations and states, the coordinator of ATTAC-Spain Sol Sanchez deepened the information. In these trials, there will be three private lawyers not subject to appeal, who don’t respond to any state or high institution. Their salary will be 1000$ per hour. A judge could arrive to collect 1million $ per case. The average cost of a trial is about 8 million $. Sanchez told that one of those judges stated that if this Treaty would be signed, States accept that the devil can bring them to trial on hell. Something like that happened to Egypt, which was sued by a corporation for raising the inter-professional minimum wage, and to the Philippine government, sentenced to pay 58 million $, which represents the cost of 3 million basic vaccines or the wages for more than 12500 teachers.
The ATTAC-Spain coordinator wanted to make clear that it is not only a question of tariffs, but something much more dangerous: “an attack to the states’ ability to legislate”. He added that there would be an enforcement of the agreements up to the local governments and councils. In essence, “it is a treaty of transnational capital upon citizens, not of strong country upon weak country”.
Willie Meyer, from the international secretariat of the PCE, pointed out that this treaty has been managing in secrecy because it goes against the public interest. The aim is to concentrate much more the economy in few hands through the deregulation of the market, the privatization and globalization of economy, without globalize the resources. “If we do not stop the TTIP, the world’s most important free trade zone will be created”. He warned that its principle of deregulation will get ahead in everything: national sovereignty, human and environmental rights, and even peace. He called the attention to the NATO that, at its last Summit on September 4th in Cardiff, praised the TTIP and created a rapid intervention force that guarantees that the raw materials will not be questioned.
European workers are not yet aware of what will possible happen to them, Meyer argued. In the United States there are no rights to work, just individual relations. Workers cannot appeal to the courts. This is the dream of flexi-security coming true. And this can reach Europe, he explained. With a more ironic tone, he admired the remarkable talent that the capital has to coordinate and implement the agreements above everything and everyone. Furthermore, he expressed his wish that “the political and social left of the United States would be able to coordinate with the European one in the same way, to deal with what is rising up”.
The challenge now, he added, is to explain to all sector of production the consequences that the signature of this agreement will have for them. “Our obligation is to warn the people about the TTIP. We need to stop being analysts and start acting”. The challenge to the Left, he concluded, “is to give a complete alternative from Europe in order to establish the relations from the point of view of Human Rights”.
On October the 11 creative mobilizations will be held simultaneously in the day of European Action Against TTIP and Fracking with the aim to stop the TTIP, CETA, TISA, as well as other agreements of free trade that are currently being negotiated, and to promote alternative trade policies with Humans Rights, Democracy and environment as priority issues.