Saturday morning on the streets of Westover, usually around the Blake statue, you can find political campaigners mingling amongst the shoppers exchanging points of view, handing out leaflets and making the weekend a more interesting place. This Saturday Westover joined the worldwide protest against TTIP.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, such as food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations and opponents see it as “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations” as well as “secretive and undemocratic.“
Public services, especially the NHS, are in the firing line. One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to US companies. This could essentially mean the privatisation of the NHS.
TTIP is being negotiated by the Tory-LibDem coalition whilst both the Labour Party and the Green Party are strongly against letting the NHS and other pubic services being carved up with both parties recently elected MEP’s stating that “public services will be kept out of TTIP.“
There is also concern tht TTIP’s ‘regulatory convergence’ agenda will seek to bring EU standards on food safety and the environment closer to those of the US where regulations are much less strict, with 70 per cent of all processed foods sold in US supermarkets now containing genetically modified ingredients whilst the EU allows virtually no GM foods and the same goes for the environment, where the EU’s REACH regulations are far tougher on potentially toxic substances.
In Europe a company has to prove a substance is safe before it can be used; in the US the opposite is true: any substance can be used until it is proven unsafe. As an example, the EU currently bans 1,200 substances from use in cosmetics; the US just 12.
TTIP’s biggest threat to society might be it’s perceived assault on democracy. One of the main aims of TTIP is to allow companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits which means unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically elected governments.
Both Labour and Green parties are strongly against this aspect of TTIP whilst the Tories and Lib Dems in coalition remain supportive of the whole TTIP package.
To find out more about the campaign against TTIP and to sign the petition you can go to the 38 degrees website at 38DEGREES.ORG/TTIP