Demonstrators marched around the globe Saturday to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a 'free trade' agreement currently being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the United States.
Opponents fear that TTIP will erode food, labor and environmental standards particularly with regard to the EU's strict regulations on food additives, genetically modified crops and the use of pesticides. "There is a very big risk: TTIP will restrict our democratic rights. In the future, large corporations will have an even greater influence on the legislative process," said Thilo Bode of Foodwatch.
The EU and US began TTIP talks nearly two years over creating the world’s biggest trade zone. The ninth round of negotiations will begin on Monday, April 20 in New York.
Tens of thousands marched across Germany where more than 200 demonstrations took place.
In Barcelona, 50,000 marched through city streets:
— Mónica Vargas C. (@MonicaVarColl) April 18, 2015
Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is particularly high in Germany, in part due to rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of U.S. spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google.
A recent YouGov poll showed that 43 percent of Germans believe TTIP would be bad for the country, compared to 26 percent who see it as positive.
More than 7,000 gathered in front of the Austrian parliament chanting slogans such as “Stop TTIP”, “humanity and the environment before profit”, and “TTIP is a threat to democracy, and people’s health.”
In all, some 600 anti-TTIP protests were planned across the world for Saturday.
A Call to Action on www.globaltradeday.org, which is co-ordinating promotion of the protests, reads:
We, civil society organizations, trade unions, farmers, youth, women, indigenous movements and grassroots activists from across the world, are calling for a Global Day of Action on 18 April 2015 to stop free trade and investment deals and promote an economy that works for people and the planet.
For the last decades, secret trade and investment agreements have been pushed by corporations and governments, damaging our rights and the environment.
For the last decades, we have been fighting for food sovereignty, for the commons, to defend our jobs, our lands, internet freedom and to reclaim democracy. Along the way, we have grown as a movement, we have made our voices heard and we had victories.
Together, we can stop the agreements that are being negotiated and reverse the negative impacts of past agreements. We can drive forward our alternatives based on human rights over corporate privileges.
We call on organizations, individuals and alliances to participate by organizing decentralized actions across the five continents. We welcome a diversity of tactics and solidarity actions from across the world that will help raise awareness, engage and mobilize people locally towards a new trade and economic model that works for people and the planet.