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Commentary :: Labor
Stop the TTIP!
12 Nov 2014
The European Commission suspended the secret TTIP negotiations for four months to get citizen consultation on the Investor-State-Dispute Settlement provision. This proposed parallel system with 3-person arbitration courts allows corporations to sue states for lost profits and decisions are irrevocable.
STOP THE TTIP!


[The following call to protest published in September 2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://stop-ttip.org/de/wo-liegt-das-problem/.]


WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?


The EU will soon sign two comprehensive trade agreements, one with Canada (CETA=Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and the other with the US (TTIP=Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Officially this will create jobs and improve economic growth, it is said. However in reality the profiteers of this agreement are mammoth corporations, not the citizens.


• The constitutional state is undermined by introduction of a parallel justice. Canadian and US businesses receive the right to sue for compensation when they think losses arose because of laws or measures of the EU or individual EU member states. This can also overturn laws enacted in the public interest on environmental- and consumer protection. The decision about compensation payments will be made by private arbitrating groups meeting secretly instead of by public courts. Payments will be paid out of the state treasury with tax funds. With similar clauses from other agreements, businesses have often sued for compensations in the millions and sometimes billions. [For example, the energy firm Vattenfall is now suing the Federal Republic of Germany for 3.7 billion Euros compensation because two degenerate nuclear reactors were turned off in the German nuclear exit.] Such lawsuits will pile up through CETA and TTIP. Only foreign businesses should profit from the special rights to sue. Domestic businesses cannot use this instrument. The courts of arbitration decided once and for all. An appeal is impossible which contradicts constitutional principles. Corporations should be bound in new rules and laws insofar as their interests are affected. That is called “regulatory cooperation.” Corporate representatives are invited by governments to influence new bills in expert groups even before they adviser them in the elected parliaments. This undermines democracy. The political will must start from the people, not from the corporate representatives!


• Corporations had and have a very great influence on the secret negotiations over CETA and TTIP. According to official data, the EU Commission had 590 meetings with lobbyists in the preparatory phase on the TTIP. 92% of these meetings were with business representatives while representatives of consumers and unions only spoke in a few cases. Industry representatives influence the negotiations. Some formulations in the drafts of the agreement leaked out to the public came directly from business lobbyists.


• The negotiations are carried out in secret. Even our people’s representatives know nothing about their course. They first receive the results in the form of long documents (the CETA agreement is around 1500 pages) after the end of negotiations and can only accept or reject the whole agreement. The pressure to approve is great. The EU Commission claims a rejection would cost economic growth and jobs, render superfluous five years of negotiation and upset the trading partners. We want to prevent TTIP and CETA from being simply waved through by the parliaments. We must build public pressure for that. We should demonstrate that millions of people in the EU reject the agreement!


Employee rights come under pressure and jobs in many branches are endangered. The US has only recognized a few basic rights for employees (only two of eight ILO core labor norms). Massive job losses threaten through the severe competition from overseas above all in agriculture and the electronics industry.


• Liberalization and privatization should be one-way streets. Returning once privatized municipal utilities, hospitals or waste disposal services to communal authority would be difficult or even impossible with CETA and TTIP.


• The EU and its member states come under pressure to allow risky technologies like fracking and genetic engineering. In fracking processes, huge quantities of a mixture of water, sand and chemicals are forced into shale rock. Cracks in the stone arise through which natural gas can be extracted. This is very critical for the environment and the climate! The US firm Chevron could already create the basis for an “investment” because it carries out test drillings in Poland. The Polish government is now preparing a regulation that defines the concrete environmental conditions for fracking. This would strongly influence Chevron’s profit expectations. No wonder Chevron has strongly supported investor-state lawsuits as part of the TTIP. The threat of an investor-state lawsuit alone would be a strong lever on Polish legislators and could prevent effective conditions. Other EU member states may also face lawsuits. A moratorium against fracking exists now in Germany. The Canadian state of Quebec was sued for $250 million compensation on account of such a moratorium in an investor-suit of the US conglomerate Lone Pine (more on the theme Fracking and CETA: http://corporateeurope.org)...


• Food standards and consumer protection with cosmetics and pharmaceuticals threaten to be adjusted to US standards. We need higher protective standards, not lower standards on the use of pesticides, mass animal breeding and clean sources of energy. A regulatory cooperation would make this difficult or impossible.


CETA and TTIP strengthen the power of big business. Democracy and the public interest will be weakened. This cannot be allowed! Please sign our European Citizens Initiative!


Together we can stop TTIP and CETA!


RELATED LINKS:

www.alternativetrademandate.org
www.citizen.org
www.freembtranslations.net




TTIP COMMENTARY: FREE TRADE AND ROTTEN MAGIC


By Daniel Haufler


[This article published in September 2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.fr-online.]


Magic is based on a principle: the magician diverts the public from what he is actually doing. The observers are amazed and applaud.


SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel hoped for this diversion when he promoted the planned free trade agreement TTIP between the EU and the US at the party convention over the September weekend. First he diverted the public with a tirade against “Silicon Valley capitalism” and then pulled the compromise with the DGB union out of his hat that should guarantee a free trade agreement to the joy of all employees – but unfortunately is so vague that it can hardly reach its goal. However the comrades could not realize that as quickly as Gabriel presented it. Amazement, applause and approval followed.


If the social democrats seriously held fast to their demands – no investor-protection clause, no social- and environmental protection dumping and protection of union rights -, then they must break off the negotiations. TTIP should achieve the opposite like all other free trade agreements concluded worldwide in the past. Without magic, this is a trick from which employees in Germany will not benefit.


MERKEL DESTROYS FAITH IN SOCIAL EUROPE


By Sahra Wagenknecht


[This press release from 9/22/2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.sahra-wagenknecht.de. Sahra Wagenknecht is the chairperson of Die Linke (the Left Party) in the German Bundestag.]


“The German government demands social cuts from France and irresponsibly supports Marine Le Pen’s election campaign,” Sahra Wagenknecht commented. The first chairperson of the Die Linke continued: “Merkel destroys faith in a solidarity and social Europe through bank bailouts at the expense of taxpayers and raises demolition of the social state into a dogma. Wages, pensions and social benefits in France are cut today on pressure of the German government. This means a new Agenda 2020 in Germany.


Die Linke urges canceling the austerity dictate in Europe and direct credits of the European Central Bank to Euro states to finance investments and not new bubbles on the financial markets. A more just distribution and higher mass purchasing power and domestic purchasing power are possible through taxes on millionaires.”


THE WORLD DOES NOT HAVE OR NEED A LEADER


By burger


[This blog commentary on the article “Amerika fuehrt die Welt. Luegt mich nicht an!” from September 29, 2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.heise.de.]


The world does not need the lying, arrogant and self-satisfied appearance of the incompetent supposedly in charge of this economic-, military- and secret service dictatorship in North America abandoning all earthly goals and morally depraved.


The US (not America) claims again to lead the world. The camera pan shots in the plenary auditorium showed the rapturous applause of this flashy show-off speech in the UN General Assembly. However the majority of the listening attendees were very reserved.


The arrogance of the speaker Obama is representative of his country and as marionette of the US power elites was repulsive but very sobering for thinking persons.


What will become of our earth if such political criminals actually lead the world? It would be nothing but a ruthless dictatorship of US monopolies, military and secret service with “democratic” methods as the “solution” of ne4w problems as often demonstrated recently (even against its own population, for example in the city of Ferguson).


Is Obama a world leader? This lying warmonger is really a powerless but extremely compliant marionette of his “sponsors” in the American economy without recognizable or acceptable visions as an alternative for this world, without respecting the honor, dignity and rights of other peoples.


The conclusion presses: Yes, the world does not need a leader, neither a morally depraved “leadership state” like the US nor a leader like Obama. May the world be prevented from ever being led by an idiot/ psychopath!



“AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD”


By Florian Roetzer


Right before the Congressional elections, US President Obama puts himself in the limelight as world leader and supreme warlord or commander-in-chief


[This article published on 9/28/2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.heise.de/tp/druck/mb/artikel/42/42898/1.html.]


For the strategist in the White House, the new long war against terror is an opportunity for strengthening the leadership of the long attacked president six weeks before the Congressional elections. In his weekly address [1], Barack Obama declared “America now leads the world under his command.” The leadership of the US, Obama said, is “the one constant in an uncertain world.” The majority of Americans [at 60% according to the Gallup poll (2)] support the war against ISIS. This is less than supports the Afghanistan war (90 percent) or the Iraq war (76 percent).


Obama emphasized America with a broad coalition wages a struggle against the “Russian aggression in the Ukraine,” not only against the Islamic state. This week he called more nations to join the US and stand on the “right side of history.” Obviously America also fights against Ebola and against global warming.


The US has done its part and calls other nations to do their part. The US invested in clean energy and lowered CO2 emissions. Before the United Nations, Obama also boasted that the US already reduced emissions more than any other country. Its own Department of Energy reported emissions rose in the first half of this year compared to the past two years. [3] That is presumably a consequence of the positive economic growth. On the other side, the decline of emissions up to 2012 referred back to the economic crisis. Renewable energy increased 7 percent since 2012 and now covers 12 percent of the total energy.


According to Obama, people all over the world expect the US to lead the way. Americans are “the heirs of a proud legacy of freedom.” We have shown “we are ready to do what is necessary to ensure the legacy for coming generations.”


Obama lays it on less thick than his predecessor but the claim is clear. The US government sees the US as the superpower to which others should join to stand on the “right side of history.” The world should be rescued from the consequences of global warming and protected from the dangerous epidemic. The US, according to the message, puts under pressure states that do not obey the American system to fight the evil. Previously Obama described the Islamic state as a carcinoma. [4] He does not use that word now but stresses destroying or wiping out terror groups as though they could be simply carved out. Describing the adversary as carcinoma recalls the Nazis “genocidal policy of annihilation.” Yesterday in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Andrian Kreye said Obama intensifies “endless war” with this rhetoric.


Whether the president now coming on the scene as a world leader and supreme warlord shortly before the Congressional elections in which the republicans could gain the majority in the Senate can turn the rudder is dubious for Obama and the Democratic Party. According to surveys, people have more trust in republicans in protecting the US from terror. At the beginning of September [5], 55 percent of those interviewed said this, more than in 2002. At that time, the republicans were 19 points ahead. Now they are 23 points ahead since only 32 percent trust the democrats to protect the US from terror. This was not a great problem until recently since fear of terrorism was not a theme in the US. The mood in the country has changed, possibly not benefiting Obama and the democrats with the Islamic state and Obama’s reaction in presenting this as a direct threat to the US.

Links [1]
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/27/weekly-address-ame
[2]
http://www.gallup.com/poll/177263/slightly-fewer-back-isis-military-acti
[3]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-carbon-emission
[4]
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/10/remarks-president-
[5]
http://www.gallup.com/poll/175727/republicans-expand-edge-better-party-a



Note – H.R. In other words, the war against ISIS and the conflict with Russia are pursued for interests of US domestic policy. That the world could exist without the US leading the way seems completely outside all powers of imagination in US political circles.
See also:
http://www.freembtranslations.net
http://www.alternativetrademandate.org
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TTIP Threatens Sovereignty, Community Rights and Jobs!
13 Nov 2014
TTIP stands for "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" and is also known as TAFTA, Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement. It is a free trade agreement of 800 million that has been secretly negotiated since June 2013. Corporate groups or multinationals dominate the negotiations. Legislators, consumer, environmental and labor groups are denied access and depend on leaks.

Since tariffs are already very low (around 3%), non-wage trade barriers, e.g. labor and environmental regulations, are the main theme of negotiations. Europeans fear that privatization and Americanization could be massively encouraged. Book dealers and public sector workers fear takeovers. If a French university wants to open a branch in Munich, it would be entitled to all the subsidies given to the University of Munich.

The TTIP like TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) threatens the sovereignty and decision-making of community. Corporations can sue states but states cannot sue corporations and decisions are irrevocable. "Foreign investors" are set above labor and environmental groups. Philip Morris is suing Australian and Uruguay for lost profits because of warnings on cigarette packages. A French company is suing for lost profits in its Egyptian waste disposal firm because of higher Egyptian minimum wages. Vattenfall, a Swedish energy conglomerate, is suing Germany for 4 billion Euros for closing two antiquated nuclear power plants. A Canadian firm Lone Pine is suing Quebec through an American subsidiary for lost profits because of its anti-fracking law.

A recent study from Tufts University (October 2014) warns that the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could cause European disintegration, unemployment and instability:
http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/14-03CapaldoTTIP_ES.pdf

http://www.alternativetrademandate.org
www.citizen.org
www.freembtranslations.net
29-page study on the TTIP
14 Nov 2014
http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/14-03CapaldoTTIP.pdf