Brexit would weaken the campaign against toxic trade deals like TTIP

The UK government has been a leading proponent of TTIP. That wouldn't change if we left Europe.

Image: Jakob Huber/Campact

The recent TTIP Leaks have proven what many of us have argued for several years: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is less a trade treaty; more a corporate power grab.

This free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and US aims to remove trade barriers and tariffs, ‘unnecessary’ regulations, and restrictions on investment. But with tariffs between the EU and the US already low or non-existent, it is becoming clear that the agreement will focus mainly on removing or changing regulations and standards in Europe for the benefit of corporations rather than in the public interest.

The leaked documents reveal, for example, that the US is demanding the watering down of EU food safety standards and the lifting of a ban on GM foods. This could have a big impact on farmers in my own South West constituency as they would face unfair competition from cheap, intensively produced American meat and dairy coming onto the market.

There is very little ‘partnership’ about this process; the US is seeking access to European markets on entirely its own terms and the result would be a race to the bottom on environmental and social standards.

The Leave campaign have been quick to exploit Green criticism of TTIP as a reason to leave the EU. They are either being incredibly naive, or simply clutching at straws.

Cameron’s government has been a cheerleader for TTIP since its inception, and the UK government have already been striking damaging trade deals with countries such as Colombia and Ethiopia. The idea that we would leave the EU and suddenly forget about free trade deals that favour business over democratic institutions is ridiculous.

Indeed, some of the big players in the Leave camp have been gung-ho about both free trade and TTIP. Boris Johnston has declared that ‘There is absolutely nothing not to like about TTIP’.

It’s also important to note that if we left and adopted the Norwegian approach of joining the European Economic Area (EEA), not only would we still be contributing to the EU budget, we’d also be subject to any changes in legislation that could result from a TTIP agreement. But crucially, we would not be able to take part in the TTIP negotiations. It is also clear the Leave campaign haven’t a clue what kind of trading relationship they want with the EU post Brexit.

The latest leaks also showr that the fight against TTIP is not lost. They reveal the scale of the differences between what the US and EU want from the deal which means one thing is certain – it will not be concluded any time soon.

In the European Parliament, the 50-strong Greens-EFA group of MEPs continue to champion the will of the people: over three and a half million Europeans, including many thousands in the UK, have signed a European Citizens Initiative on the trade deal, and public opposition continues to grow on both sides of the Atlantic.

Our collective pressure has already watered down the controversial Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which would enable corporations to sue states for any policy changes or actions that could potentially damage their profits.

Greens believe that we need to remain in the EU so we can defeat TTIP together. This toxic treaty cannot be pushed through without the agreement of the European Parliament or all 28 EU members. France has already signalled it will reject the deal. There is also huge momentum to stop TTIP and UK campaigners have played a vital role in the campaign against TTIP. Leaving the EU would only weaken these efforts.

The rise of scepticism in cagey free trade agreements, on two of the largest consumer continents, shows that we are best placed to push a progressive agenda, focused on creating a social Europe, from within.

Molly Scott Cato is Green MEP for the South West of England

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9 Responses to “Brexit would weaken the campaign against toxic trade deals like TTIP”

  1. wg

    Surely the best way to ensure measures like TTIP do not become law in this country is for this country to be free of 27 other countries who could impose it on us. Leaving the EU would put the power to reject TTIP in the hands of our directly elected Parliament.

    I also note that the author raises the Norway issue – whilst we can ignore the fact that a lot of Norway’s contributions are voluntary, and that they have a power of veto, or that they have input within several hundred different EU bodies, or that they sit at the real top table, at a global level, and, in fact, are present when standards are set that are passed down to the EU to implement – what kind of democracy is it that enables the European Union to force measures onto any country?

    As it is, the Norway option is an ideal stepping stone away from a political and judicial European Union, and into the wider world; as Dr Richard North and colleagues have suggested in their well thought out plan:

  2. James Kemp

    What a lot of rubbish the old don’t do this we can stop it well in that case why in the leaked documents does it say one thing has been watered down that is a LIE. Not one thing has changed the Americans have basically said all or nothing and the craven MEP’s are going to go through with it. They have the numbers with the Conservative block to pass it. The green block is tiny in numbers isn’t it!

    Now remember Obama’s words no if no buts we go to the back of the QUE well GOOD! Then we can have a sensible negotiation and equal relationship not just a client state for more American hegemony. That or a massive fight that won’t get shoved through our parliament as easy as through the EU parliament.

    So the latest is France thinks it can vote it out hah! Read the document there is no opt out if your country is in the EU, and it’s passed then it will happen.
    All i keep on reading is don’t worry well i do because i can both count and read, just trust me from a MEP doesn’t work on me.

    There is not one bit of proof it is going to be stopped, remember please the EU really wants this so it’s going to happen! Don’t vote to stay if you don’t want TTIP because a vote to stay is a vote for TTIP and the death of the NHS…

  3. Steve Acutt

    I will fight TTIP to my last Dying Breath

  4. Penny Wilcox

    I totally disagree with the bove comments. Millions of people all over Europe have protested against TTIP and I’m sure we’re far more likely to avoid it IN the EU than OUT. That’s mainly because I don’t trust this obnoxious govt to keep anything safe if they were in power and unfettered by the things that we have gained from EU membership, like employment protection, the working hours directive, agreements on climate change and environmental protection etc etc. AND the Norway option, Swiss option, Canada option and such like are pie in the sky for us. Wre have a different relationship with Europe and I place no faith whatsoever that the EU, or USA, will fall over themselves to do favourable deals with little old Britain. Brexit spells economic, social and political disaster.

  5. David Clenton

    The whole point surely is that the UK will have to live with TTIP whether it remains in or leaves the EU. If it remains a member we will have the protection afforded by the EU by virtue of it’s size. Don’t forget, Cameron’s government will rush us into TTIP or something like it (I keep hearing from Brexiters that “we can sign trade deals with countries all over the world”….. we can of course, but on whose terms?).

  6. Lord Fauntleroy de Belize

    “It’s also important to note that if we left and adopted the Norwegian approach of joining the European Economic Area (EEA), not only would we still be contributing to the EU budget, we’d also be subject to any changes in legislation that could result from a TTIP agreement.”
    Yup, true also we need to make sure we are in the EEA WHILE WE NEGOTIATE. Otherwise all hell will break loose WHILE WE NEGOTIATE. Then we do what we decide.
    “But crucially, we would not be able to take part in the TTIP negotiations.” Be a sport and tell me who is handling the negotiations on the side of Great Britain?

  7. Craig

    Wg- you’re missing the point. 27 countries aren’t trying to impose TTIP on us. Its the UK that is leading the fight to impose TTIP on them!
    If you hate what TTIP stands for then you have to vote remain. Only in the EU will be get a defanged version.

  8. Jeremy Corbyn calls on PM to oppose TTIP and makes case for EU membership | Left Foot Forward

    […] Labour Party leader also called on David Cameron to oppose TTIP over its threats to the rights of workers and […]

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