Saturday, 7 December 2013

PRESS RELEASE - Transatlantic Trade Treaty threatens democracy, say Greens

Cllr Andrew Cooper, lead Green Party Eurocandidate for Yorkshire & The Humber, has warned that an American-EU trade treaty poses a major threat to our country. The US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could be sealed in the next few days and under cover of the benefits of free trade, it is set to create an obscure process, known as the investor-state dispute mechanism, which could strike down the democratic wishes of British citizens.

Andrew Cooper said:
“The Government has repeatedly promised a referendum on any big changes to the EU, but, TTIP poses by far the biggest potential threat on the sovereignty of Britain in decades and it seems ready to just sign our rights away. The treaty is supposed to harmonise regulations between Europe and the USA, but it will also create the legal right to rip the heart out of any Government policies or laws which big businesses decide are not in the interests of their shareholders.”

Many of TTIP’s provisions are being kept confidential at the moment, but they are known to include a right for private companies to sue Governments that introduce any policies that go against their business objectives, especially if they harm their profits. Under the investor-state dispute mechanism, private investors will then be able to take legal action against Governments to reverse policies and claim compensation from taxpayers.

Andrew Cooper continued: 
“Look at the current debate on energy policy and the different choices for Britain's future. Well, a few years ago, Argentina introduced a range of policies on energy and economics to rescue the country from a national financial crisis. Because they were unhappy with these, five international energy companies used a similar treaty arrangement to TTIP to sue the Argentinian Government, which has just agreed to pay them $677 millionsto settle their claims. There are similar examples with plain cigarette packets in Australia and cyanide water pollution from gold-mining in El Salvador.”

“If the TTIP passes, companies based anywhere in the world would be able to sue over laws on environmental protection, renewables commitment, health and so on, whenever EU rules are tougher than US ones or affect profit. For example, in food, Yorkshire consumers could be forced to accept hormones in beef cattle and chicken meat washed in chlorine and our farmers could have to surrender any freedom to choose about GM crops.”

The US and British Governments argue that the treaty will create jobs, but there is no evidence for this – indeed, similar agreements in the past in other countries have led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“The Green Party is raising the alarm – the other parties aren’t,” said Andrew Cooper. “The costs will dramatically outweigh any benefits. Jobs could be lost here in Yorkshire as well as elsewhere unless we accept lower and lower standards, and even potentially dangerous ones, in both consumer and employee protection.”

“Caroline Lucas, Green MP, has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament expressing concern about the investor-state dispute mechanism – but she has received no support from the Coalition or Labour.  Apart from the Greens, the other parties at Westminster and in Europe seem spellbound by the desire for free trade at any price, and the price could be high indeed.”
Contact: Andrew Cooper, 01484 667519 | 07721 348619
Green Party Energy Spokesperson; Yorkshire & Humber lead Euro candidate.

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