On 19 December I commented on the threat to democracy posed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in secret by the US administration and the EC. Under the proposed Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), it would allow US multinationals to override laws protecting the environment, consumer rights, workers and food standards by enabling them to sue EU governments and local authorities who dared to pass or enact legislation that stood in their way of making profits. This could prove the death knell for the NHS but has implications that extend to the entire public sector and provision of services by the state.
It is now reported that, after an unprecedented 150,000 objections across the EU, ISDS has been ‘set aside’ by negotiators. We thank everyone who themselves ‘set aside’ their legitimate doubts about whether anyone would be listening and registered their objections. We are also grateful to the few Labour Party MPs who spoke out in parliament against TTIP.
‘Set aside’ does not, however, mean abandon. When the US-EU talks resume next month, ISDS will not be discussed, but the European Commission will be in a position to decide after our general election whether to return to it. The Tories and their stooges, the Lib Dems, remain keen on TTIP in its entirety. UKIP is hostile to the EU for largely xenophobic reasons but endorses the pro-big business, anti-worker philosophy behind it. Thus if, after the general election, these parties are in government, they will undoubtedly work behind the scenes to get TTIP, including ISDS, adopted by the EU. The UK will then have no say in its implementation.
What of the Labour Party leadership? It has maintained a shattering silence on the matter. It is therefore essential that we keep up the pressure on Labour Party candidates at the forthcoming general election, asking them to come out openly and oppose TTIP – and to commit to continuing to do this once elected. Local hustings and the forthcoming Croydon TUC statement of commitments asked of all candidates standing in Croydon at the general election can have significant roles to play here. Please make your contribution to seeing that this happens.