Europeans Want TTIP Trade-Deal, Though Obama Blocks Making Its Terms Public

Eric Zuesse

TTIP is a secretly negotiated trade deal between the U.S. and the EU, and all indications are that it will replace each nation’s drug-safety, product-safety, food-safety, environmental, and worker-protection, regulations and laws, placing them into the hands of panels composed of appointees of large international corporations, no longer in the hands of publicly elected officials, no longer in the hands of elected politicians, who need to face voters periodically in order to stay in power. Basically: U.S. President Barack Obama is demanding that European nations weaken their regulations, but has been encountering stiff resistance from some, which has dragged out negotiations.

German Economic News headlined, on 4 February 2015, “TTIP: civil rights complaint alleging secret negotiations,” and reported that Europe’s Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, said: “American objection to the publication of certain TTIP documents is not a sufficient reason, alone on its own, to withhold information from the European public. The Commission will at all times ensure that exceptions to the basic rights of EU citizens are justified and reasonable whenever there is a limitation on access to documents.” But, she didn’t do anything to enforce her statement; the non-disclosure continued.

Furthermore, “In July, the European Court had to decide whether the public should have access to institutional documents. The conclusion: Only in exceptional cases would a refusal be possible. The judges ruled at that time that documents of international scope (such as TTIP) are not automatically excluded from the European Transparency Requirements.” Obama lost on that one too.

However, still, nothing has yet been made public about the TTIP terms; and the many consumer, worker, and other organizations, that have demanded to see what is in the agreement, have faced a stone wall of inaction, even after court decisons in their favor.

Despite this secrecy and foot-dragging against the public, Europe’s public seem to want whatever is inside that black box, regardless of whether it’s lowering their product-safety standards, lowering their worker-protections, lowering their environmental protections, or whatever. In fact, on 20 February 2015, German Economic News bannered, “EU survey: European citizens are enthusiastic about TTIP,” and reported: “The EU has published a survey according to which citizens are downright euphoric about the free trade agreement TTIP. In all, 25 Member States [of the 28] there will pour sheer enthusiasm over the completely secretly negotiated agreement, but for one small exception: Germans are mostly against the TTIP.” Actually, however, tiny Austria was even more strongly against it, and was the only nation to be majority-opposed to TTIP.

The only English-language publication of the results of that EU poll has been the 6 January 2015, “Eurobarometer: who’s for and against TTIP in EU”; and here were the national breakdowns, as published there:

http://www.borderlex.eu/eurobarometer-whos-ttip-eu/

“Eurobarometer: who’s for and against TTIP in EU”

06 Jan , 2015. No Comments [that’s how obscure this publication was: 0 comments].

Question: “What is your opinion on each of the following statements? Please tell me for each statement, whether you are for it or against it. (ONE ANSWER PER LINE). A free trade and investment agreement between the EU and the USA”:

FOR/AGAINST/DON’T KNOW

EU average 58/ 25/ 17

Austria 39/ 53/ 8

Belgium 66/ 26/ 8

Bulgaria 64/ 14/ 22

Croatia 67/ 23/ 10

Cyprus 59/ 25/ 16

Czech Rep. 62/ 25/ 13

Denmark 71/ 17/ 12

Estonia 72/ 11/ 17

Finland 62/ 21/ 17

France 50/ 33/ 18

Germany 39/ 41/ 20

Greece 61/ 32/ 7

Hungary 62/ 28/ 10

Ireland 71/ 15/ 14

Italy 58/ 22/ 20

Latvia 66/ 18/ 16

Lithuania 79/ 9/ 12

Luxembourg 40/ 43/ 17

Malta 75/ 11/ 14

Netherlands 74/ 18/ 8

Poland 73/ 11/ 16

Portugal 60/ 23/ 17

Romania 75/ 11/ 14

Slovakia 62/ 26/ 12

Slovenia 57/ 31/ 12

Spain 63/ 19/ 18

Sweden 59/ 26/ 15

U.K. 65/ 19/ 16

——

Now that you know that the survey’s question was actually referring to “A free trade and investment agreement between the EU and the USA,” and that it made no mention at all of TTIP, nor of Obama’s demand that it be approved in secret, does this change your mind about what is, and has been, actually going on here? The poll-findings were misreported to the press, which (to the extent that the press reported them, which was little) misreported them to the public.

(NOTE: The only independent economic analysis that has been done of TTIP concluded that, even without considering the lowered safety-standards for drugs and other products, and for the environment, etc., it would very much harm European economies, and that it would probably even harm people in the lower 99% of America’s economy; but this economic analysis was never publicized.)

The EU itself (its “European Commission”) wrote each one of the poll-questions. What do you think of their having written a poll-question about “A free trade and investment agreement between the EU and the USA,” and then publicized the findings as if they had instead been about TTIP, which wasn’t even mentioned in the question (and there was also no mention in it about Obama’s demand for secrecy)?

What does all of this information suggest to you, then, about whether the U.S. Congress will likely give President Obama “fast-track” approval of this treaty, instead of debate and discuss it in public and in the open, prior to granting any such approval of it?

If this deal wins approval in both Europe and America without any authentic democratic process, on either side of the Atlantic, then what would that indicate about the meaning of the term ‘democracy’ as applied in and to Europe, and in and to America?

How serious a concern should this be; and is the TTIP matter receiving in the ‘news’ media an appropriate degree of concern and corresponding attention in the press?

If it’s not receiving the public attention in your country, that it deserves, then what does this fact itself say about the meaning of ‘democracy,’ as being applied to your country?

Has the term ‘democracy’ become then merely a sham? Is it now purely for propaganda — no longer actually descriptive of your country?

Where is this world heading? Are huge international corporations, and their leading stockholders, replacing nation-states and their citizens, so as to turn those citizens into no longer citizens but mere subjects of a huge new international aristocracy, the U.S. aristocracy and its affiliated and dependent subordinate aristocracies in all U.S.-allied nations — a return of feudalism, but on an international scale, via a modern form of feudalism: internationalized fascism, America’s Empire?

Are you concerned about this? Should your children be?

If so: What can be done against it? Who will start it, and how? And when?

Should it start now, by all Presidential candidates being asked their view of TTIP? Would that perhaps defeat Obama — and Hillary Clinton, and Jeb Bush, and … all the boosters of American Empire? Would that defeat the international aristocracy, and their political agents (such as those) for the very first time, and so start our world back on the road toward democracy, and away from the very dangerous imperial path it’s now on?

And should all ‘news’ people who refuse to drill down on this (perhaps because their bosses won’t allow it) become tuned-out (and their ‘news’ organizations turned off) by the public?

And, should this same demand be made on Obama’s similar proposed TPP trade-deal with Asia, and his similar proposed global TISA trade-deal on banks and other financial companies, the latter of which deal aims to facilitate financial fraud by lowering reporting-standards etc.?

(NOTE: The euphemisms for all of these proposed U.S.-pushed trade-deals are “trade liberalization,” “free trade,” and “getting rid of bureaucracy.” With phraseologies like that, we’re heading toward a paradise for mega-crooks, if Obama and other champions of the American aristocracy win.)

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • MC

    Shouldn’t we have realized long ago by the failure of government to get a firm grip on big business practices that it would lead down this road? Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson apparently felt it was both no big deal and quite irreversible. Early detection of sicknesses can aid in a cure. What were we thinking?…..or were we?

    • MC

      Not Wilson but Taft.

  • paul

    I think one of the reasons for the Ukraine crisis is to distract people from TTIP and TPP. No better distraction than war.

  • B. Miles Teg

    First they came for the Africans… even progressives like Oxfam said to the poor countries – be practical… well now it is not appropriate for that kind of useless operational advice from the South, because it is useless… welcome to Africa!

  • Jim

    The 1% have a Hypermarket called Planet Earth: every resource – including (and especially) human beings – sits on the shelves, ready to be bought and sold at their whim.

  • unheilig

    Welcome to the Brave New World of TTIP/TPP, where the people–taxpayers, voters–are deliberately, cynically, and with malice aforethought excluded from knowing anything about what the fascist oligarchs are doing. I read an article recently written by a British MEP who was graciously permitted to read the draft agreement on the condition that she take no recording instruments with her and not divulge anything specific about what it says.

    Is it possible today to not be permanently enraged about what’s being done to us?

    • MC

      It’s always been the same old story; your labor is only worth as much as some crook tells you it is, and not a penny more. Remember how he added another task on to the pile but absentmindedly forgot to give you a pay raise?

  • MC

    Someone told you; “Not to worry folks, all the empires of history have crumbled and caved in upon themselves…so just sit back and enjoy the fireworks.”….Just for the record, it wasn’t me.

  • margsview

    I don’t understand how this degree of corruption just goes on and gets worse. It criminal and nothing really to do with trade. Would not a financial withdrawal–a self-induced implosion —sever their goals of greed and control. All trade deals are out to corner, the one last source of profit–taxpayers money. Be it thru ISDS clauses, or forced by one-sided unfair competition between much smaller domestic industries and foreign/domestic corporations within government procurement.contracts..Its so perverse, it is not even remotely close to any aspect of capitalism. What is the general opinion on a solution? See bilaterals.org