TTIP: All bets are off

There’s a flurry of media activity over the proposed US-EU trade deal, TTIP. It was triggered by the German vice-chancellor, who said that the process had all but failed because the EU and the US couldn’t agree. Both the US government and the European Commission were quick to point out that negotiations continued, though the optimistic timescale clung to by the Americans (agreement by the end of 2016) now looks pretty much impossible.

I’ve written in detail before about the pros and cons of TTIP. In principle, easier trade between Europe and America ought to be a good thing. But the early ideas for the deal included some elements that were totally unacceptable, including controversial private courts where multinational corporations could sue governments. Campaigners had also expressed legitimate fears about regulatory devaluation (undermining Europe’s high standards protecting workers and consumers) and about the dangers of opening up our public services to private tender.

In response, the European Parliament took a strong position, saying that it wouldn’t ratify a deal which included any of these unacceptable elements. Since MEPs’ approval will be necessary for the deal to go ahead — and since both US and EU negotiators are fully aware of this fact — it looked like we were winning the battle.

But, as with all the work we do at European level, June’s vote to quit the EU has opened up a whole new can of worms, not just for Europe (which risks losing one of its strongest pro-trade voices) but for Britain too. The Americans have made it abundantly clear that they are not in the market for bespoke agreements with smaller countries. Even if they were willing to negotiate separately with Britain — which is by no means certain — the Tories have made no secret of the fact that they are desperate for a deal, any deal, with countries like the US to try to offset the economic damage from leaving the EU.

So Britain will be negotiating from a position of urgent economic necessity, trying to wring concessions from a market five times our size, and without the European Parliament (or other countries’ governments) to moderate the Tories’ more extreme free-marketeering tendencies. Since our government was already one of the strongest supporters of even the most dangerous parts of TTIP, this does not bode well for any deal we do manage to negotiate.

Inside Europe, this was a battle we were confident of winning. Outside, all bets are off.

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4 Comments

  1. Sadly, this is true. But this is what you get when the Leave campaign lied, repeated their lies in the face of official sanctions from the statistics authority, and called the other side liars (adding, “Project Fear” and “EU=Hitler” for good measure), just to confuse the electorate. Meanwhile, the Remain campaign (Cameron, Corbyn, etc.), either didn’t really try to persuade the electorate, or, in Corbyn’s case, appears to have deliberately undermined his own party, and nobbled his own party’s efforts to campaign on this; because of a secret personal position that he wanted to surreptitiously push on us all. And now, post-hoc, they’re saying that MPs cannot continue supporting our membership in the EU (or, merely questioning the lies we’re still being told by the Brexiteers), that MPs cannot continue opposing the will of 51.8% of the electorate from one particular June day in 2016, without doing something that would be “deeply unpopular with the electorate” (as though our MPs aren’t allowed to represent our interests any more). Soon, they’ll be calling you, and anyone else willing to speak the truth,
    “unpatriotic”.
    I’ve tried using many similar arguments with my friends, to those you are using — but because of the cowardice and disinterest of Cameron and Corbyn, we happy few who speak the truth, have been left terribly exposed! Those who would support us on social media, are instead hiding in the shadows because they have been made to feel “unpopular” by the fake (internally inconsistent) majority; while those fierce individuals who fully believe the propaganda from 40 years of headlines in The Sun about the EU demanding straight bananas and crucifying “metric martyrs” for driving on the left hand side, continue yelling at us, going around in circles, failing to answer questions, repeating propaganda almost verbatim while shouting,
    “LA la la, fingers in ears, NOT LISTENING” — they hound us at every turn, on social media — lying in wait to ensure that we can never get a point across unhindered! I told some of them that my sister, who lives in Germany, whose husband is hard-working and well-qualified, and whose children are fully bilingual (whom our government didn’t bother to try to inform about this referendum, or allow her to register to vote); will now be denied the right to live or work here (unless she separates from her family, or pays a fortune and goes through a Kafkaesque process that takes years to complete). The Brexiteers’ response?
    “Tough luck!”, “This is what the ex in expatriate means!” – Lovely, and so easy for them to say. Some people just don’t care. They don’t seem to understand that they’re giving their own family members, neighbours, colleagues and erstwhile friends; a huge slap in the face: they’re pushing us into an administrative hell: yet they just don’t seem to care until it all comes back and bites THEM personally in the back side! They just won’t listen when I tell them the numbers of high-technology manufacturing companies with a total hiring freeze, or the numbers of high-technology or highly skilled workers (I mean real ones, not the fake ones who have degree-mill certificates for immigration purposes, of whom we have plenty from outside the EU), who are leaving Britain because of this!
    There is simply nothing more I can do, until we get some serious party leaders who make a solid and serious case for the truth. Until then, I’m merely a voice in the wilderness, representing a “fringe interest/ position”. (Yes, really: the fake “highly skilled worker” scam is a real problem. I personally know one who is translating for police interviews!)
    We will be totally at the mercy of the Tories until the Labour Party gets rid of that radical left-wing reactionary communist “Trident without nukes” lunatic, Corbyn, and his undemocratic “Momentum” mobs! Until then, I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat or perhaps Labour in our (possibly last) MEP elections; and after what I’ve seen in this referendum campaign, I’m as close as I’ve ever been to becoming a life-long Liberal Democrat supporter.

  2. This was always one of the great risks of Brexit (or marvellous opportunities according to rampant Brexiteers). Theresa May will try not to let her mask slip while opening doors for UK acquiescence

  3. I supported 38degrees throughout the long struggle to get this insidious “deal” scrapped , but it seems that all the hard work may be in vain. This excuse for a government will now be able to agree to the deal with all the worst bits kept in, so it looks like we will have to do all the protesting all over again.

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