Campaigners will launch a national tour of the UK on Tuesday to protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a controversial proposed EU-US free-trade deal, ahead of negotiations in Brussels next week.
The TTIP will broaden trade between the EU and the US to an unprecedented level, and according to prime minister David Cameron, who has championed the deal within the EU, could be worth billions to the UK economy.
Negotiations have been carried out in secret, but the deal is expected to relax current quality and health and safety restrictions. However, critics have warned that this could weaken civil and consumer rights and environmental safeguards in the EU, calling the deal “an attack on democracy”.
It has also been claimed that the benefits of the pact have been “vastly overblown”, with campaign groups warning the deal could increase equality and actually result in significant job losses in Europe, as firms are encouraged to source goods and services from the US.
To educate the public about these fears, the campaign group War on Want will launch the No TTIP! tour on Tuesday. With free-to-attend events in Birmingham, Manchester and London followed by a national day of action on Saturday, War on Want hope to galvanise the UK against the deal.
“It is a scandal that discussion of such a dangerous threat to jobs, public services and democratic safeguards is being held in secret,” said Jeff Powell, campaigns and policy director at War on Want.
“This campaign will show that people from all walks of life in Britain will fight every inch of the way to halt a deal that puts corporate greed before public need.”
John Hilary, director of War on Want, added, “If this trade agreement is allowed to go through, it will be the biggest transfer of power to capital that we have seen in a generation.”
Concern has particularly centred on the powers that the deal will give to businesses to sue democratically elected governments over laws that could reduce their profits, such as environmental regulations. This is currently taking place in Australia, where the tobacco industry is suing over restrictions on cigarette marketing.
Unions are worried that this proposed investor-state dispute settlement clause could prevent future governments from renationalising public services, as US firms would have the power to launch legal action to defend their interests.
Reports have also raised concern about the importation of US meat, which is not controlled by the same strict regulations that are used in the EU.
For more information on the No TTIP! tour and how to attend, visit the War on Want’s website.
Photo: Images of Money via Flickr