Dr Chris Jones

TTIP

Promoted by Alan Pawsey on behalf of Chris Jones; both at St Mark's Church Hall, Hall Rd, Norwich, NR1 3HL

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Protocol, or TTIP, sounds fairly dry and boring but it's proposing major changes to the way our country and particularly our public services like the NHS are run.


Fundamentally it's a trade agreement being negotiatiated between the EU and the United States. We're a trading nation and things that are good for trade, and help to open up new markets, should be good for all of us, but "the devil is in the detail" and in this case there are some very devilish details indeed!


There are four main areas where the Labour Party has major concerns and is demanding that the Coalition don't agree to TTIP until they are resolved. They are:


  • Protection for environmental, consumer and employment rights. Generally these are much higher in Europe than in the US. TTIP could be used to drive standards up but at the moment there is a real risk of a race to the bottom, with hard-won rights on this side of the Atlantic being traded away.


  • Protecting public services. Other countries are choosing to exempt services like health and education from TTIP but the Tories are refusing to do this. This means, for example, that American multinationals will have a guaranteed right to be allowed to provide NHS services and could sue a British Government that tried to reverse privatisation.


  • Supra-national dispute resolution. TTIP would set up a system to resolve disputes that would override national Courts and Governments. This could mean that a future government would be prevented from making laws in this country that were in the national interest, if American businesses or politicians objected.


  • Exclusion of US States. A large proportion of US public spending is controlled at State rather than National level, but the US have excluded all services provided at State or local level from TTIP. this means that while our services will have to be open to US competition, European businesses won't be allowed to compete for large parts of US business. This is blatant protectionism, and you have to wonder why, if TTIP is such a good deal, the US needs to protect itself in this way

 

There is a growing public campaign against these parts of TTIP, and we need to keep pressing the Government to resist US pressure, and to work with our partners in Europe to negotiate a better deal, or to repudiate it altogether. Fortunately it looks likely that the negotiations will continue beyond the May election so we have a chance to elect a Government that will protect our interests.