South West Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has welcomed the growing public awareness of and opposition to a proposed EU-US trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Molly said, “I am relieved that at last TTIP is getting some publicity. Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret it is hard to build opposition, so campaigns such as the 38 Degrees petition that alert people to the dangers of this toxic deal are to be welcomed.”
Greens in the European Parliament have been at the forefront of the campaign against TTIP for many months. Concerns focus around three main areas: regulatory harmonization which threatens hard-fought-for EU regulations on the environment, workers’ rights, public services and consumer standards; Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) which would give multinational corporations the right to sue governments over laws and regulations that affect their profits and the secrecy around the negotiations which have shut out public debate. Molly Scott Cato herself has been invited to attend a secret briefing on TTIP.
In the South West, TTIP could have a devastating effect on the region’s many small scale farmers, say Greens. Food products such as chemically washed poultry, livestock treated with growth hormones and genetically modified crops – all allowed in the US – could be sold in the UK. This would severely undermine farmers in the South West who adhere to the higher European standards on animal welfare and on a GM crops ban.
Molly Scott Cato says TTIP also threatens the privatisation of public services in the South West: “There are many aspects of TTIP I am deeply worried about but I find ISDS the most disturbing. This has the potential to seriously undermine democracy and allow corporate powers to lock-in the privatisation of public services, particularly health services including the NHS.”
David Cameron has welcomed the idea of the TTIP agreement saying it could boost the UK economy by as much as £10bn per year with individual households benefiting by up to £400 a year , claims dismissed by Dr Scott Cato.
“Cameron’s statistical conjuring act on TTIP is totally groundless, though it is no surprise to see the Tories taking the side of corporations. What is very worrying though is to see Labour MEPs supporting this treaty. One would hope that Labour would be opposing a treaty that threatens to undermine worker rights and allow US corporations to take over the health service,” says Dr Scott Cato.
Last year in the House of Commons, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas sponsored an Early Day motion on TTIP expressing concern at the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP and calling for talks on the partnership agreement to be frozen. The EDM has received cross-party support and been signed by 38 members of Parliament, with support mostly coming from the Scottish Nationalists, Plaid Cymru and Labour MPs.
Last week saw local activists from 38 degrees taking to the streets in order to raise awareness and collect petition signatures. Hundreds of leaflets were distributed, as part of a movement across the country which saw some 9000 people on the streets. You can sign the 38 degrees petition here.