By Vicente Navarro Lopez
Source Kaosenlared.net / The Dawn / December 3, 2015
The aim of this treaty is not to facilitate the trade between the US and the EU, but to eliminate what the treaty defines as barriers to trade and investment, which refers to standards of protection of workers, environments and consumers that countries have developed in response to popular demands.
In several previous articles I have warned about the danger this misnamed new treaty between the US and the European Union (EU) poses for labor rights, civil rights and consumer rights on both sides of the North Atlantic, which will be severely affected by such a treaty. The elimination of protections would take place through the establishment of an unelected supranational court (whose composition would primarily be of ìexpertsî in trade, close to large transnational companies). It would have authority to force a country to dismantle such protections by considering them barriers to trade and investment.
It seems that the protest that has developed over this element of the Treaty is now being discussed among the ranks of power (in the secret committee which is preparing the deal ) and how to dilute this popular protest by making some changes in the nature of the court . I do not trust them, and the secrecy that dominates the process, with an enormous lack of transparency, explains the lack of credibility of such committees. Hence it’s vital that opposition to this treaty continue, because these negotiations are clearly undemocratic, because neither the European Parliament nor national parliaments are being invited nor consulted in these negotiations.
An unknown dimension of the treaty
But there’s another dimension of TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) that has gone almost unnoticed and can cause as much damage as the International Tribunal. I refer to the committees called Regulatory Cooperation Council, which will be constituted bilaterally between the US and member countries of the EU, and will have to analyze trade and investment barriers. Such advice will be composed of ìtrade experts, but not by experts in issues of protection of labor, environment or consumers.Who will provide the information? Who will evaluate it? What regulatory power will they have? Who will have the power to punish ?
There is something alarming in the narrative already. Everything is spoken in the language of economics and measures are implemented by using evaluation criteria such as cost-benefit analysis, which is the code used in econometrics to apply primarily economic criteria based on return on investment. From this point of view, it seems that the only criterion for evaluating any intervention or removal of labor, environmental or consumer protection would protect the profitability of the intervention. This ideology, presented as economics, is extremely dangerous and has led to the current disaster caused by the application of austerity measures. It is neoliberal dogma applied to international trade.
Thus, the urgent need for the population to be mobilized to demand changes in both the members who make up and functions of those councils, highlighting that the priority theme of the evaluation criterion must be the welfare and quality of life of people submitted to the treaty, also demanding that labor and environmental experts, among others, sensitive to the needs of workers and users, be involved instead of always taking profitability as a criterion for the employer in such trade or investment.
Even more important, we must stress that such advice should be under the political responsibility of the representatives of the people, a responsibility that, in the dominant neoliberal commercial climate in the institutions that are preparing this pact, is not even being considered. The arrogance of power reaches the highest point in a lack of sensibility; what is clearly damaging to the popular classes is presented as the only logical and reasonable alternative, according to the criterion of ìeconomic science.
*Vicente Navarro Lopez is a Spanish doctor, sociologist and political scientist. He is an expert in public policy and political economy.