WHAT IS TTIP?
TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a trade and investment deal being negotiated by the European Union and the USA. It is supposed to help increase trade flows – which on the surface sounds like a good idea. But TTIP goes much further than any other trade agreement that the EU has ever signed. It wouldn’t just reduce tariffs and duties on imported goods. It would also create new mechanisms that threaten the laws and regulations that have been put in place to protect our health, our rights and our environment. Put simply it is an agreement that is designed to make it easier for very big corporations on both sides of the Atlantic to make money by weakening government policies that reduce their profits.
It is going to do this in three main ways:
- By weakening the rules and regulations that make sure that the food, cosmetics and other products that businesses sell to us are safe – in order to make it easier for businesses from America to sell their products (which have been manufactured under different, often much weaker, regulatory systems than we have in Europe). Governments are calling this “harmonisation” of standards – but it is really a race to the bottom.
- By making it easier for big businesses to get involved in providing public services – and make it harder for governments to stop this happening in future.
- By giving big businesses the right to sue the government for billions of pounds if they put in place new laws that make it harder for those businesses to make money – even if those laws are designed to protect our health, our rights at work or our natural environment.
The overall effect of TTIP would be to undermine the sovereignty of our governments – their right to take action to protect the public. This means that if TTIP is ratified, democracy itself will be weakened.
WHAT HAS THE STOP TTIP CAMPAIGN DONE SO FAR?
Luckily millions of people in the UK and across Europe have realised that TTIP is an incredibly bad idea. In 2015 over 3 million people signed a petition asking the European Commission to stop TTIP and marches were held across the continent – including one in Berlin where more than 200,000 people took to the streets.
Lawyers and economists have been looking at the proposed agreement. They have concluded that it is illegal, unfair, unnecessary (because there is already a vast amount of trade between the EU and the USA) and that it will be likely to lead to the loss of over 600,000 jobs across Europe.
Even more importantly, for everyone’s future, experts also say that TTIP will make it difficult for governments to take action on climate change – because fossil fuel companies will use it to try and stop governments from putting in place laws that will reduce our consumption of oil, coal and gas. This is already happening under similar agreements in America.
So millions of people across Europe have already realised that TTIP is a bad idea. And there is huge power and momentum behind the Stop TTIP campaign.
WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO DO?
Despite all of these powerful protests and all of this analysis – which basically says “we don’t need this and it is going to hurt us” at the moment governments across the EU are still determined to close the deal and ratify TTIP. Governments are so close to businesses that they assume that what is good for big businesses must be good for us.
We have got to make governments realise that this is wrong. That we need the growing power of big business to be kept in check by the power of strong government. TTIP will wreck this balance and give businesses too much power – and experience has shown that they will not use that power in the interests of our health, our environment or our democracies.
As artists we want to use all the tools we have for this fight -
our creativity, our ability to get people’s attention, our ability to inspire. We need a story-telling revolution. If we do that well we hope we can get thousands – or even millions – more people to realise that TTIP is an incredibly bad idea. That it is toxic for our democracies and our future.
And perhaps most importantly we have to inspire people to protect democracy by using it – by getting in touch with their MPs and MEPs and telling them that we don’t need TTIP -
and that it isn’t in our interest. Telling them that we want them to use their votes and influence to stop TTIP. We need to inspire a new wave of public citizenship
TTIP is a boring acronym. And trade agreements themselves are highly technical and boring. And for some, even democracy has started to feel boring and alienating and pointless. But this fight against TTIP isn’t boring. It is fundamental. It is about the kind of world we want to live in. About making sure that our world isn’t run on behalf of big businesses – that instead it is a world in which our families, our social services, our precious natural environment and our democracies can thrive.
If you are an artist - or anyone working in the creative or entertainment industries - we hope you will want to join us - we need your help. And if you are not an artist, but are interested in our work, please follow us on Twitter or Facebook, then share our content and join our campaigns.
And if you just want to find out more about the problems with TTIP we highly recommend this report: http://www.waronwant.org/resources/transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership-2015-update