100 signatures reached
To: Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius [email protected]
Barnet/raising concerns on TTIP
To write to the Secretary of State for communities, London MEPs, and the Local Government Association to raise the grave concerns of those who have signed this petition about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Why is this important?
Since July 2013, the EU and the USA have been negotiating on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP). These negotiations are to determine which goods and services TTIP will apply to.
These negotiations are in secret. MEPS, and MPs are not allowed to see the documentation.
As tariffs between the EU and the US are low anyway, the main focus is on increasing trade through the harmonisation of standards as this will supposedly stimulate the economy.. What this actually means could well be a lowering of environmental standards and standards regarding hazardous chemicals and food safety, and labour rights, to the detriment of the majority of the population.
TTIP also includes usage of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
This allows corporations to sue Governments if a government passes a law which could infringe on the profit that that corporation expects to make.
In the past, with other Trade agreements, the ISDS has been used to overturn democratic decisions by all levels of governments at significant public cost.
ISDS provides for the usage of secret private arbitration tribunals which are held in secret, and there is no possibility of appeal against decisions.
One case where a government has been dragged before an ISDS tribunal as a result of a decision by a local authority has already happened:
In 1997, the US waste management company Metalclad sued the Mexican government as the municipality of Guadalcazar , in San Luis Potosi State , had rejected their application to run a hazardous waste depot. In spite of San Luis Potosi declaring the area a nature reserve, Metaclad sued Mexico , who had to pay a fine of $15.6 millions. This was possible under the Investor State dispute settlement, part of NAFTA, and also in TTIP.*
Fines have been up to billions of dollars and the cost of an ISDS case averages $ 8,000,000.
If governments start passing laws and making decisions out of fear of being sued by corporations then this will have a devastating effect on democracy, especially in times of austerity.
Sourcing of supplies and employment by local governments is badly needed to local economies and TTIP could prevent this happening.
Although local authorities would be bound by whatever will be in the final TTIP treaty, there has been no impact assessment of the effects of TTIP on local authorities, neither has there been any consultation of local governments or organisations representing local governments. They have not been allowed to scrutinise negotiation documents.
What is especially important for local authorities is that under TTIP procurements for goods and services would have to be tendered across the entire EU and US area. Very likely is that the winners would be multi-national corporations. Local firms simply would not get a look-in and money otherwise supporting the local ecnomy and providing local jobs would go elsewhere.
And besides, under the ISDS clause in TTIP any attempt by a local authority to reverse this could result in the UK being sued before a secret ISDS tribunal. This has already happened I other countries (see Metaclad suing Mexico because Guadalcazar council turned down a hazardous waste dump).
We would like Barnet to join the hundreds of local authorities across Europe have declared themselves TTIP-free zones including over 26 local authorities in the UK including Conservative-run North Somerset,, 64 in Spain 450 in France and 300 in Germany, including Barnet's twin town Siegen-Wittgenstein.