20 June 2015
LEWISHAM GREEN PARTY MEDIA STATEMENT
Friday 19th June 2015
For immediate publication
The Green Party has been at the forefront of campaigning against a proposed new trade deal called TTIP - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. TTIP will threaten standards and protections that are currently enshrined in UK law, including rights at work, environmental regulations and food safety laws. The proposed trade deal will weaken defences against NHS privatisation, and will protect big corporations from governments enforcing their own national laws.
In Lewisham, as part of a nation-wide campaign, Councillor John Coughlin, Green Party Councillor for Brockley Ward has been asking the Council whether they will publicly declare their opposition to the TTIP trade deal. He will speak out again on the issue at the Council Meeting on the 24th June, and call for Lewisham to declare itself a TTIP-free zone.
Cllr John Coughlin says "The Green Party here in Lewisham want to bring to everyone's attention the great damage that the proposed TTIP trade deal could do to everyone's livelihoods and their quality of life. It's not too late to stop this happening if we all work together."
Lewisham Green Party are part of a local network of organisations campaigning against TTIP, and have been involved in organising events and meetings in Lewisham to raise public awareness of the risks TTIP poses to our fundamental rights, and the power of future local and national governments to act in our best interests.
In Europe, Greens have played a leading role in getting the European Union to look again at what is being proposed. This month the EU surprised everybody by postponing a discussion due to take place in the European Parliament - because of the pressure they having been coming under from ordinary people all across Europe, including the UK.
Notes to Editors
1 TTIP and CETA
The EU soon intends to sign two far-reaching trade agreements: one with Canada (CETA = Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and one with the USA (TTIP = Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The official line is that this will create jobs and increase economic growth. However, the beneficiaries of these agreements are not in fact citizens, but big corporations:
• Employee rights are coming under pressure, and jobs in numerous industries are endangered. In the USA, only a few basic rights for employees are recognised. In agriculture and in the electrical industry, massive job losses could occur because of the tougher competition.
• Liberalisation and privatisation will become one-way streets. The return of public utilities, hospitals, or waste collection to the public sector once they have been privatised would be made more difficult or even impossible.
• Food stuff standards and consumer protection for cosmetics and medical products threaten to be set at the same levels as US standards. However, we need higher rather than lower standards of protection, whether they apply to the use of pesticides, factory farming, or clean sources of energy. Regulatory cooperation and ISDS would make this more difficult or impossible.
• Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS): Foreign investors (i.e. Canadian and US companies) receive the right to sue for damages if they believe that they have suffered losses because of laws or measures of the EU or of individual EU member states. This can affect laws which were enacted in the interest of the common good, such as environmental and consumer protection.
• Big business has had excessive influence on the secret negotiations relating to CETA and TTIP. Alone in the preparatory phase for TTIP, 590 meetings took place between the EU Commission and lobby representatives, according to official statements. 92% of these meetings were with representatives of companies, while only in a few cases there were discussions with consumer and trade union representatives.
• The negotiations are conducted in secret. Even public representatives know little if anything about their progress. They receive the results in the form of long agreements and are therefore able only to either accept or reject the whole agreement without being able to ask for amendments.
• Over 2,200,000 people across Europe have signed the "European Citizens Initiative against TTIP and CETA" which states - "we call on the institutions of the European Union and its member states to stop the negotiations with the USA on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada."