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The Trade Deal That Outlaws Government Legislating On Health, Safety And The NHS

Claims that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is being thrashed out between EU and US officials, promises to amount to an extra £98 billion a year to the EU and £78 billion a year to the US; have the
Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Ukip in support of it for its potential job creation and gains.

Pic: CWU against the TTIP - click to sign petitionHowever, the trade deal has nine potentially serious issues that all parties are not even thinking about. In fact it is doubtful that any party leader actually knows the detyailed terms of the agreement because it is no being disgussed by them and they arte not aprt of the trade deal negotiations going on!

Many believe the TTIP, will ensure the USA dictates to the world of commerce and trade; and ensures all countries signing up to the agreement will have to fall in line with US laws and business practices.

Here are just nine potentially devstating elements within the treaty that America wishes the EU to agree:

  • The UK could be sued for risking company profits
  • The proposed deal contains what is known as "Investor State Dispute Settlement". This means that companies will be able to sue governments whose regulations put future profits at risk. So fracking firms could take the government to court for banning risky drilling, chemical companies could also sue on the basis that bans on the use of certain carsinogens are detrimental to their profits and private healthcare providers could end up sueing a government which protects the NHS from further privatisation.
  • The UK could be forced to adopt other countries' rules
  • In order to trade under the TTIP, the UK could be forced to accept rules from other countries - which doesn't bode well for people complaining about the UK having too many laws from Brussels. Despiute this fact, Nigel Farage's UKIP are supporting the agreement!
  • Your wages and working hours and holdays will suffer
  • Unions are concerned that the weakened regulations will allow bosses to reduce wages and workers rights will suffer as legislation protecting workers is repealled in order to interface with US labour laws which offer protection in terms of jobs and pay far less than in the UK. Further holidays and working hours legislation will also have to be abandoned or repaled.
  • Our food regulations would be watered down
  • The equalization of rules between the US and EU are part of the deal, and as such, the UK could be forced to relax regulations which could see the return of banned food products in Europe like chicken bleached with chlorine and growth hormones in beef, not to mention GM foods.
  • Our environmental standards would be undermined
  • In order to match US standards, UK could be forced to reverse its ban on asbestos - which has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma.
  • Your personal data (including medical recors) could be at risk
  • US citizens do not have the same level of protection for their private data as EU citizens, so e-commerce provisions under the deal could see the safety of your private data put at risk.
  • Experts say the deal's benefits are "vastly overblown"
  • “An impartial reading of these key documents relating to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership shows quite clearly that these huge figures are vastly overblown and deeply flawed,” said political scientist Dr Siles-Brügge of Manchester University.
  • We are in the dark about much of the deal
  • Parts of the deal will only be unveiled once they're finally agreed by European Commission and US officials.
  • And you can do little to stop it
  • The deal is being thrashed out in secret by few people you've actually elected.

The National Health Service is facing a "unique risk" of having its services privatised if a secretive major EU-US trade deal goes through, trade unions have warned.

Unite claimed that the deal between the European Union and the United States, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is the result of "secret" negotiations between US officials and the European Commission.

Pic: Len McCluskeyUnite general secretary Len McCluskey said:

"David Cameron has shown that he's willing to go to Europe to defend bankers' bonuses, now he must use his powers to defend our cherished NHS.

US health companies will even have the right to sue a future UK government in secret courts if politicians try to reverse privatisation.

The most significant effect will be felt in health, enabling US healthcare multinationals and Wall Street investors to sue the UK government in secret courts if it attempts to reverse privatisation.

David Cameron can exempt the NHS from these trade negotiations. Unless the Prime Minister acts, bureaucrats in Brussels and Washington will make the sell-off of our NHS irreversible."

But will the TTIP be voted into being in the same way as the privatisation of the NHS bill was, that is by MPs who hadnt even read the details of what the bill would do?

Green Party MEP Keith Taylor , says that is exactly what will happen. He told the Huffington Post UK:

"Even my colleagues who sit on the European Parliament's Trade Committee don't get a proper look at the negotiating document, and most MEPs don't get any say on the deal until we're presented it as a fait accompli."

Earlier this year, trade unions and NGOs said during a major demonstration outside the European Commission in Brussels as trade negotiators from both sides of the Atlantic met; that the TTIP will lead to lower wages and weaker consumer standards.

Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, was quoted by Euronews as saying:

“We believe that these negotiations are going much further than a trade deal endangering our environmental and healthy standards.”

A number of civil society organisations say that the lack of transparency surrounding the talks means ordinary people are not getting their say.

“This new free trade agreement is the most catastrophic,” said one unnamed protester. “If it’s signed, let’s not joke around, democracy is no more.”

Pic: Stop big business demonstrationSupporters dismiss those claims, saying the free trade deal will boost jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

Marc Van Heukelen, chief advisor to EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, agreed to meet with the demonstrators.
He said: “There are 1,300 treaties agreed between European countries and the rest of the world. So don’t make out here that this is completely new.”

However, many will point to the free trade agreement between Canada and the USA made in 1989 when the same claims were made. Many at the time viewed the claims as misleading and indeed the reality of the agreement came home in the form of lost jobs and higher consumer prices, not to mention its affect on Canada's environmental laws.

Indeed a detailed analysis completed in 2009, on the Candain Usa Free Trade Agreement showed that the CUSFTA induced an increase in inward and outward trade between the US and Canada, but also led to a significant reduction in sales of their foreign affiliates in the corresponding CUSFTA partner country.

This outcome implies that the trade-generating effect of the CUSFTA is overstated, says the abstract of the report.

To sign the 38 Degrees campaign petition against the TTIP, click the CWU Says No To TTIP logo above.

Source: Euronews / Journal of International Trade & Economic Development / Huffington Post UK / Manchester University / Unionsafety

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