Syriza Official Vows to Kill EU-US Trade Deal as 'Gift to All European People'

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Syriza Official Vows to Kill EU-US Trade Deal as 'Gift to All European People'

Threat comes amid continued grassroots opposition to proposed trade deal

At an anti-TTIP demonstration in Berlin last month. (Photo: Uwe Hiksch/flickr/cc)

An official with Greece's newly elected Syriza party may have sounded the death knell for a proposed EU-U.S. trade deal that has faced a mountain of opposition from civil society.

The deal is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), now facing its eighth round of talks between negotiators this week in Brussels.

The TTIP, which would be the biggest trade deal ever, has been criticized as a corporate-friendly deal that threatens food and environmental safety under the guise of "harmonization" of regulations.

Georgios Katrougkalos, now deputy minister for administrative reform, confirmed what he had told EurActiv Greece ahead of his Syriza party's victory last week: that his parliament would not ratify the trade deal.

"I can ensure you that a Parliament where Syriza holds the majority will never ratify the deal. And this will be a big gift not only to the Greek people but to all the European people," EurActiv reported Monday.

Because Syriza's coalition partner also appears to share the anti-TTIP views, EurActiv reports, this means the Greeks could issue a veto, thereby threatening to block the deal.

Among Katrougkalos' concerns with the trade deal, shared by many of the deal's critics, is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.  As author Glyn Moody explained, it "enables companies to sue for alleged losses caused by government actions." He adds

ISDS would introduce external tribunals that allowed companies to bypass national laws. It would open up the EU (and US) to the risk of ISDS claims on an unprecedented scale. If TTIP includes ISDS, there are 14,400 US-based corporations owning more than 50,800 subsidiaries in the EU, all of which could use the mechanism to sue the EU and its Member States. Even without TTIP, European nations are already facing claims of at least €30 billion because of ISDS chapters in existing agreements - we don't know exactly, since many cases are still secret. With TTIP, it's easy to imagine that figure multiplied by ten or even more. Moreover, this is money that must be paid by the public, making a mockery of any claims that TTIP will bring benefits to ordinary people.

Several European organizations are mobilizing to show their opposition to the trade deal during this latest round of negotiations.

Among them is Friends of the Earth Europe, which plans to hold a demonstration Wednesday to highlight how the TTIP is a "Trojan treaty." 

Also joining the demonstration is Guy Taylor, trade campaigner for Global Justice Now and an organizer for actions Wednesday, who said in a statement: "It’s unheard of to see so many people traveling to Brussels to lobby their MEPs like this, and that’s testament to just how hugely controversial and unpopular TTIP has become. David Cameron waxes lyrical about national sovereignty, but in pushing for this deal he is willfully handing sovereignty to big business. The deal is not really about trade, it’s about entrenching the position of the one percent. It should be abandoned."

Underscoring similar concerns is 31-year-old Ross Mackay, who will be joining the actions in Brussels. He told the Scotland Herald, "TTIP is not really about opening up trade and harmonizing tariffs and regulations; it's about a race to the bottom, locked-in privatization, and a seismic shift in power away from people and their elected governments towards corporations."

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