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The fact that the TTIP negotiations are arousing growing criticism is good for us. There can be no doubt that citizens are becoming aware of the consequences that could pose an agreement of this kind and we are forcing the EU to be more transparent and publish some documents related to negotiations. However, the United States maintains secrecy about its position.
It is probably true to say that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is being negotiated between the European Union and the United States of America is out of the public eye. Few people talk about it and even few media show the state of negotiations. It seems like the EU and the US want to keep the talks out of the limelight. Although we are not going to discuss here the lack of transparency of the negotiations, could we reach a clear conclusion with the biased information we have about if the TTIP would constitute a threat for EU Independence? Even when this is the main argument against the agreement, there are also more issues in the arena which are argue by opponents. Those against the TTIP state that the signing of the treaty would endanger the public sector, leading to the privatization of public health sector. Moreover, the TTIP would cause the loss of workers’ rights due to the fact that the US only has signed 2/8 ILO Conventions. In addition to this, consumers would be affected because European precautionary principle would be at stake. Even environmental standards would be at risk with the birth of the Treaty.
On the other hand, it is generally agreed that the integration into European and global markets has costs but, above all, benefits. Few people would dispute the fact that the TTIP would generate new economic opportunities such as the creation of jobs and growth through improved market access and greater regulatory compatibility. In other words, supporters argue that unrestricted circulation of goods and services enhance competition, stimulate innovation and improve the economy. In consequence, the TTIP aims to eliminate unjustifiable protectionist barriers and create a single area of economic and industrial regulation similar to that we enjoyed in the European Union. It is said that it could generate economic growth in Europe of 0.5% of its GDP. In a Europe which needs to leave behind the deep economic crisis and the period of austerity, the Treaty would become a “Marshall Plan” for growth. Furthermore, the argument of the danger of the public sector could simply be rejected saying that privatizations are carried out by States, not a free trade agreement, and that are those States which ultimately ratify the agreement. Another thing to keep in mind is who negotiate the agreement: the European Commission, which ensures that the commoninterest is taken into account and not those of each Member State. Finally, supporters state that find a balance between European and American labour rights and industrial standards is the main purpose.
“In its relations with the wider world, the European Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter”. With article 3.5 TEU in mind and if actors open the negotiations to citizens, we can give them a chance because, in the end, the daunting challenge of creating this agreement will bring about a change. Good or bad, it is in our hands.