In Part 3 of Henry Vespa’s look into The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, he focussed on the deal’s legal ramifications. He now concludes his treatment of the TTIP with a look at how the agreement affects national sovereignty.
What it comes down to is, the word is out but probably too late…
The TTIP is the largest trade agreement to date, with 29 countries about to sign up to it in the expectation that it will boost each of their individual economies (plus the European ‘uber-economy’ too). So far, so good, but what almost nobody seems to want to talk about (with the exception of a few left wing press commentators and numerous bloggers) is that what it really boosts is the profits of the global corporate concerns that will be taking full advantage of every legal loophole.
The real problem, from the point of view of national sovereignty is that the treaty enables big business to sidestep the legal systems of the individual countries.
As we’ve seen, should a particular government make a policy decision that affects profit then there’s a good chance that the TTIP will enable the poor, aggrieved corporate multinational to sue the government in question for damages – the case will be heard in some shadowy, out of jurisdiction ‘court’, with a ruling from corporate lawyers and no possibility of appeal.
If we sign up to this then gone are the days of truly independent policy-making or legislation that is purely in the interest of the electorate.
There are plenty of examples in recent history that show corporations are not shy about using these treaties to hold governments to ransom and when money is handed over, of course, it’s the taxpayer who foots the bill.
But it gets worse. It’s happening on the other side of the planet too. There’s already a four-country Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership agreement (or TPSEP) but current negotiations will see that superseded by the greatly expanded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which will include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. So that’s pretty much all the major players in the Asia-Pacific region. The stated intentions (boosting trade for the benefit of all) are the same as the TTIP and the likely impact (corporatocracy) are the same too.
Over the last six months there’s been the predictable McFlurry™ of online petitions against both treaties but while they may occasionally do some good in bringing the opinion of the masses to the attention of those in power, let’s face it, generally these web petitions are just ways for us lazy mouse-pushers to kid ourselves that we’ve taken some action, made a protest. They may occasionally sway political will but in this instance, it’s not really the politicians who are in charge, is it?
No, I hate to end on a down note but it does seem that little can stop the TTIP and its Pacific cousin and before the year is out we’ll be one big step closer to our very own dystopian, corporate-controlled future.
To paraphrase a once-famous advertising slogan, the future’s bleak, the future’s [INSERT CORPORATE NAME HERE].