EU-US talks aimed at clinching a comprehensive free trade deal, that will allow the US to economically and politically dominate Europe and defy EU governments that object, has run into a vast tide of opposition – a ‘huge scepticism’ as the European Commission puts it.
he Commission has published the results of a public consultation on ‘investor protection’ – one of the most contentious areas under discussion.
There were many objections to big US privateers using ‘independent tribunals’, under the treaty, to allow them to privatise services such as the NHS, and then defy governments that set out to reverse the privatisation, overruling national governments and degrading them to being just powerless talking shops.
The opposition is so great that, although the talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) are continuing, the vitally important area of ‘investor protection’ (or ‘the rights’ of big business to defy national governments, and have disputes settled by unelected ‘tribunals’) has been suspended for the moment.
European trade unions are convinced that there is a plan for a ‘trade-off’ to allow US business to privatise key EU assets such as the UK’s National Health Service, in the guise of boosting the EU economy, and then to use ‘investor protection tribunals’ to defy attempts to renationalise or regulate such ‘assets’!
An EU Commission study has already estimated that a free trade deal with the US will boost the size of the EU economy by 120bn euros (£94bn) – equal to 0.5% of the 28-member bloc’s total GDP – and the US economy by 95bn euros (0.4% of GDP).
However, the work of the Commission has been brought to a shuddering halt by the mountain of EU workers’ opposition to being sold off to the US bosses and bankers.
The Commission has had to acknowledge public concern about court cases in which powerful companies have sued governments over public policy. The Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has already brought a claim against the German government over its move to decommission nuclear power plants.
US tobacco giant Philip Morris has already sued the Australian government over the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.
In fact, EU parliament has already agreed to include investor-to-state dispute settlement in the final TTIP deal.
But ISDS, involving independent arbitration in commercial disputes, has not yet been agreed by the European Parliament, which will have to approve any final text. And now the Commission says a decision on ISDS will have to wait until the final phase of the TTIP talks.
US big business wants ‘protection against discrimination’ (no national favouritism), protection against arbitrary or unfair expropriation, and guarantees that transfers of capital will be allowed out of the industries that it has privatised.
The temporary setting aside of the plans to protect foreign investors from decisions by national governments, after an unprecedented 150,000 objections (some 52,000 came from Britain), is a blow to PM David Cameron, one of the most ardent supporters of the treaty among the EU’s leaders.
However, worse is to come. On January 25th, the Greek workers are set to elect a ‘left’ SYRIZA government that will be under intense working class pressure to annul all of Greece’s ‘debts’ to the EU, undo all of the work of the ‘Troika dictatorship’ and break with the European Union.
The struggle of the Greek workers will rapidly come together with the struggle of workers all over the EU to smash the plan to impose a US-EU privatisation deal onto them, to put an end to all of the big gains that were made after World War Two.
The only answer to the TTIP conspiracy of the US and the EU bosses and bankers is for the workers of the EU to bring down the European Union and advance to the Socialist United States of Europe via socialist revolutions all over Europe.
Europe can only be united in a way that benefits its workers by the expropriation of its bosses and bankers and the establishment of a socialist planned economy that will satisfy all of the requirements of the working class. The same goes for the USA.