German industry admits it overstated the benefits of TTIP

A German NGO has accused the BDI of purveying 'grossly false information' about the controversial deal


The campaign by EU employers and governments to push through the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the free trade deal known as TTIP, has suffered a setback.

The BDI, the German equivalent of the CBI and one of the deal’s biggest supporters in the country, has been forced to revise downwards the economic benefits of the TTIP deal by a factor of 10.

The BDI had said the TTIP deal would give the European Union an economic boost of about 100 billion euros – in line with other economic predictions from leading supporters of the deal.

However following ‘repeated questioning’ by Foodwatch, a German non-governmental group, the BDI had to revise downwards the estimates published on its website on the positive effect of TTIP.

“It is correct that our communication may have given the impression that an annual boost to the economy of 100 billion euros could be expected,” the BDI wrote in a letter to Foodwatch.

The letter went onto say that BDI had ‘immediately corrected’ the corresponding passage on its website with ‘additional explanations’. But ‘in no way was there a conscious campaign of false or misinformation’,  BDI insisted in the letter.

Foodwatch had accused BDI of purveying ‘grossly false information’ about the trade agreement.

According to estimates drawn up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research for the European Commission, the TTIP agreement will boost the EU’s combined gross domestic product by 0.5 per cent 10 years after its implementation, which amounts to some 119 billion Euros by 2027.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said recently that she favours concluding TTIP this year in the interests of ‘jobs and growth in Europe’.

But opposition for TTIP is in Germany is growing from Social-Democrat members of her own coalition, and from German trade unions including the DGB union confederation and the powerful IG Metall manufacturing union.

Indeed, the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström admitted that Germany is one of the countries where opposition to the trade deal is strongest.

Among key concerns from German unions is the Investor State Protection clauses in TTIP (and the EU-Canada deal CETA) which would allow companies to sue governments in secret tribunals if they believe their interests have been compromised by legislation.

There is also concern about the effect on strong German employment protections and the long established social partnership system which gives unions a powerful voice in German companies.

In a joint statement signed by the workers representatives at the country’s main car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Ford, Opel and Volkswagen’s divisions VW, Porsche and Audi, IG Metall said:

“We will not accept a softening of standards for environmental and consumer protection or a hollowing out of worker rights and the right to co-determination.”

Tony Burke is assistant general secretary at Unite. Follow him on Twitter

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