Have you ever heard about the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership? (TTIP)
If your answer is no, then that is not surprising.
TTIP is a series of trade negotiations being carried out between the EU and US to reduce barriers to trade for big business.
Recently campaigners, worried about the lack of public knowledge about TTIP, have been out on the streets around the country arguing against the deal and gathering names for a petition to oppose negotiations.
The UK Government describes the aims of the agreement are to reduce the cost of meeting different regulations and standards between the EU and the USA creating a more integrated marketplace.
The hope is it will make it easier for businesses in the EU to access a market of more than 300 million American consumers.
This widening of the marketplace is expected to lead to cheaper goods, increased job opportunities and wages, with an estimate that the average household will benefit by up to £400 a year.
But this list of benefits does not wash with campaigners, highlighting their fears is Elizabeth Seary, who said: “I am a member of the Green Party, but the ‘Stop TTIP’ campaign is by no means a single-party issue, it’s a national issue, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP) will affect all of us.
“Some of your readers may have already heard mention of TTIP in relation to threats to the NHS, however TTIP is about much more than privatising our health service; it has far reaching implications for food standards, public procurement contracts, environmental protections, data protection, educational services, and our renewable energy policy. While the inclusion of a Bilateral Investment Treaty within TTIP, threatens to undermine democratic process.”
In defence of the deal a government spokesperson said: “TTIP will not change the fact that it is up to UK governments to decide how UK public services, including the NHS, are run. The decision about who provides NHS services will remain firmly with local NHS commissioners.
“It will not threaten UK sovereignty. The EU has made it clear that the freedom of governments to regulate in the public interest will be explicitly protected.
“The Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses being discussed will not prevent countries taking regulatory action to protect the public or the environment, nor will they overturn or force changes to law.
“It will not limit the UK and EU’s right to set and regulate on protection for workers and will not lower our food standards. It will be easier for food producers on either side to export, but only if they conform to each side’s rules on food standards and genetically modified crops.
“TTIP will not decrease environmental standards and targets which we have in place or hold back action on climate change. Our commitments are not under negotiation in TTIP.
“The agreement will not prevent either side from introducing new environmental and low carbon legislation and it will not undermine the protection of personal data. EU rules on personal data protection are not under negotiation in TTIP.”
In the meantime campaigners are urging the public to sign up to a ‘European Citizens Initiative’ petition, which states: “We call on the institutions of the European Union and its member states to stop the negotiations with the USA on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.”
The petition has already gathered upwards of 2,500,000 signatures.
Elizabeth’s concerns were also echoed by Western Isles SNP MP Angus McNeil, who said: “I am concerned by the lack of transparency in the negotiations process on TTIP.
“The Scottish Government has made several representations to the UK Government and the European Commission on TTIP to make concerns about the National Health Service and public services very clear. While both have responded saying that TTIP does not pose any threat to the NHS, the public and the Scottish Government must see the final legal text of any agreement to be fully assured that this is true.”
To find out more about the campaign against the TTIP agreement go to: website