Next Monday, negotiators from the United States and the European Union will hold a conference to discuss a controversial trade deal known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
For over a decade, US and EU banks, powerful corporations, and industry groups have pushed for a new trade deal between the US and EU. But TAFTA, or TTIP, would decrease or weaken consumer protections for both Americans and Europeans. According to Public Citizen,
In the official document outlining the deal, the Obama administration has made clear that an agreement will not primarily target trade, but rather “behind-the-border” policies such as health, environmental and financial protections. U.S. and EU corporations seek to roll back or weaken critical safeguards and limit the ability of regulatory agencies to act on behalf of consumers.
As with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), opponents of TAFTA/ TTIP warn that the so-called “trade” agreement is nothing more than a ploy by corporate lobbyists to ensure that new laws and regulations benefit large corporations. TAFTA could also threaten food safety, access to medicine, and internet freedom.
US and EU corporations consider consumer safeguards to be “trade irritants,” and are asking that they be eliminated via the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.
Included in the proposed agreement is the US airline industry’s desire to eliminate the EU emissions control policy that was implemented to combat climate change, as well as an initiative by EU banks to dismantle US financial regulatory safeguards put in place after the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis that led to a global economic recession.
Officials on both sides of the proposal have also suggested that TAFTA include “investor privileges of past ‘trade’ deals.” These extreme privileges “have empowered foreign corporations to circumvent domestic courts and drag sovereign governments before extrajudicial tribunals authorized to order taxpayer compensation for public interest policies,” Public Citizen reports.
The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement includes many of the same corporation-friendly provisions as the TPP, which is currently being negotiated by the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Medico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
And, like the TPP, TAFTA is set to be negotiated behind closed doors, with no input from consumers whose health, environmental, and financial safeguards are being threatened.
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.