How a new trade partnership may ruin your life

The European Union and the US government are currently working on a free trade agreement that will not only make absolutely everything a lot easier for corporations in either jurisdiction but will

The European Union and the US government are currently working on a free trade agreement that will not only make absolutely everything a lot easier for corporations in either jurisdiction but will also take away your basic freedom and democratic rights – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

At the very least it is unnecessary. At the very worst it will allow corporations to have a lot more say in how your country is run.

How it is now

As it currently stands there are very few barriers to trade and investment between the United States and the EU and many of the barriers which do exist are there solely to protect the governments and the people within both areas.

One example of this would be the right of governments to impose legislation on what companies can and cannot do within whichever country they operate. The UK government and devolved assemblies have been able to pass legislations banning smoking in enclosed public areas and forcing cigarette companies to place warnings on their packaging – as have many governments within the European Union.

What will change?

But all of this would change under the proposed partnership. The British Government are currently proposing a law which would mean cigarette companies would have to use plain packaging. Say the British government will not have decided to pass this law until after the TTIP had been implemented.

Say the cigarette companies noticed the plain packaging was reducing their profits by a significant margin. The TTIP would allow the companies to sue the British government which would most likely result in the law being reversed and a hefty fine being imposed on UK taxpayers. And why? Because we wanted to stop people dying quickly.

So why is the current British Government heavily supporting this agreement? Well, to put it bluntly, they’re run by the Conservative Party.

While the legislation may hinder a few Conservative policies, it also makes many of the policies made in the current term, and indeed even policies from the 80s and 90s, irreversible.

A flurry of litigation

Should another government try to make fracking illegal or renationalise anything from the railways to the Royal Mail, business will be able to block them from doing so. Banning fracking would result in huge losses for the oil and gas industry and renationalising certain services would cause a “monopoly.”

Governments could of course ignore the corporate lobbyists, but as a result of TTIP they would most likely be taken to court and almost certainly lose.

And it isn’t just the government that could face lawsuits from large companies. The TTIP would also allow companies to sue individuals for creating content which could be seen to hinder their free trade.

This means companies would be allowed to personally copyright almost any form of content or individual intellectual property and the person responsible for the content would not be allowed to share it without their permission.

Remember the SOPA which many people campaigned against a few years ago? The TTIP basically contains similar legislation and it has gone completely unnoticed.

We’re powerless

The worst thing about all this is there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Negotiations are being held in private and no documents concerning the partnership are allowed to be released to the general public.

As such media coverage has been extremely minimal and many people aren’t even aware of the proposed agreement. While some pressure groups have managed to delay the TTIP negotiations so far, it seems unlikely they will be able to entirely stop the legislation from going ahead.

We could always just riot in the streets – but be sure not to badmouth any of the major corporations responsible for TTIP or you could face a hefty lawsuit.

Some of the information featured in this article was discovered by the World Development Movement in the UK. You can support WDM and many of their causes by visiting this website where you can either donate, volunteer or join a demonstration as an activist. They also provide information on how to contact your MEP about the TTIP.

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