If anyone believed that the EU conducted its policy independent of American influence, they will lose all illusions after seeing how the European Commission is negotiating a new free trade agreement with the United States. The negotiations’ lack of transparency and the manipulative highlighting of the positive aspects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership strip us of all belief in the democracy of the European Union. The Ukrainian and Greek crises in particular demonstrate that even its primary economic processes submit to the interests of American global domination, and that the European Commission is ready to sacrifice even the interests of its own citizens in order to allow American corporations to increase profits unhindered.
Negotiations between the two sides have been inaccessible to the public since the beginning. Information on the talks, as well as the rough draft agreement, have been disclosed unofficially and with the European Commission’s consent. According to one of TTIP’s biggest opponents, John Hilary, the negotiators’ goal is to finalize the agreement as soon as possible, with as little information available to the public as possible, in order to adopt it before European citizens realize the danger they are in. The danger lies in removing what few barriers remain to the interests of global capital and big business, obstacles like civil and labor rights or measures to protect the environment. According to Hilary, the TTIP agreement even calls into question the limits imposed on banking practices, which were put into place in order to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The interests of the EU member states themselves are threatened, as they could suffer greater damage if brought before international courts by corporations displeased with their governmental policies.
The European public, however, is nevertheless responding. Within two months, a European Citizens’ Initiative crossed the one million signature threshold necessary to stop the agreement. When the European Commission rejected the initiative as legally deficient, a coalition of citizens’ organizations by the name of “Stop TTIP” filed a lawsuit against it before the European Court of Justice. Nevertheless, the commission claims that the decision on the agreement lies exclusively within its jurisdiction, without the need to be ratified by the parliaments of every EU member state.
Furthermore, the European Commission is trying to present the TTIP agreement in a positive light, pointing out that (1) the agreement will improve the economic situation in the EU and (2) it will provide energy independence from Russia via alternative sources of oil and gas. U.S. officials, within the context of the Ukrainian crisis, are hailing the TTIP agreement as an “economic NATO.” Specifically, a form of extracting oil known as “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing, which allows you to renew oil wells previously exhausted by conventional means — although with significant negative consequences for the environment — is used in the U.S. and Canada. The TTIP agreement would automatically grant licenses to export oil obtained by “fracking”, which directly contradicts the EU Fuel Quality Directive adopted to prevent further climate change, and which also labels such oil “dirty fuel.”
Furthermore, predictions about TTIP supposedly improving the economic situation in the EU were dismissed in independent studies. The study upon which the European Commission based its optimistic assessment was performed using methods which have already given erroneous assessments of the consequences of previous free-trade agreements. Other studies even show the possible loss of over a million jobs as a direct consequence of TTIP.
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