As European delegates met with stakeholders in Brussels Wednesday to discuss the details of a massive, pending trade deal between the U.S. and Europe, a new report highlights the revolving door that exists between negotiators of the deal and the industries expected to profit from it.
Watchdog groups have long warned that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will benefit multinational corporations at the expensive of public and environmental health, labor rights, and state sovereignty.
The study, published by Brussels-based watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), highlights at least fifteen examples of officials who once held positions of power within the European Commission or the UK government and are now actively lobbying the TTIP negotiations on behalf of some of the biggest food, telecom, pharmaceutical, and other industries.
While the revolving door phenomenon is nothing new, the report notes that it creates great potential for conflicts of interest, particularly when it comes to TTIP and other trade negotiations.
"The fact that so many can cross smoothly from the public to private sectors or vice versa, indicates the shared interests and ideologies that can exist," states CEO. "Whether the revolving door is a cause or an outcome of these synergies is not so easy to determine. But the synergies are there and we believe the revolving door exacerbates the corporate capture of TTIP negotiations."
CEO research has further shown that European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, her Cabinet, and the Directorate General (DG) for Trade have met with industry representatives and lobbyists in more than 80 percent of declared meetings; whereas public interest groups were only included 17 percent of the time. Data shows that agribusiness and food industry groups dominated those talks, while telecommunications and Big Pharma interests were not far behind.
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Indeed, on Wednesday, the European Commission hosted a TTIP Stakeholder Presentations Event, whose participants ran the gamut from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to corporate bigwigs Dow Chemical and Pfizer.
Rallying outside the talks on Wednesday, protesters bearing an inflatable Trojan horse chanted "Stop the TTIP" and reportedly sang Les Miserables' "Do you hear the people sing?"
Critics of the deal are mobilizing after the European Parliament last week passed a draft text of the trade deal which, despite widespread opposition, included a version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which establishes a parallel legal system enabling corporations to sue governments if public policy harms their profits.
Over 2.3 million people are backing a European Citizens Initiative to end TTIP negotiations altogether. In April, a global day of action against the deal saw tens of thousands of protesters across the European continent.