Organizers of a citizens' initiative on Wednesday delivered a petition with over three million signatures to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels in their continuing bid to stop trade deals they say pose a threat to democracy and boon to corporate interests.
They say the number of signatures—over 3.2 million at the time of publication—is proof of the vast public opposition to the trade deals in question: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and United States.
"By signing this petition, an unprecedented three million people from countries across Europe have made it clear that they reject these dangerous Trojan horse treaties which benefit big corporations at the expense of people," stated Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe.
Their petition, which has the support of over 500 European organizations, states:
We want to prevent TTIP and CETA because they include several critical issues such as investor-state dispute settlement and rules on regulatory cooperation that pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law. We want to prevent lowering of standards concerning employment, social, environmental, privacy and consumers and the deregulation of public services (such as water) and cultural assets from being deregulated in non-transparent negotiations. The ECI supports an alternative trade and investment policy in the EU.
As the London-based Global Justice Now explains in a media statement, the petition
was initiated by a coalition of NGOs, trade unions and consumer groups from across Europe, had originally been intended to act as a European Citizens Initiative, a formal mechanism whereby a petition with a million signatures from seven or more EU states can force the [European] Commission to formally respond to their request and hold a public hearing in the European parliament. In September 2014 campaigners accused the Commission of attempting to ‘stifle democracy’ after it had ruled the TTIP petition to be invalid on a technicality—a move which is currently being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.
"Three million people demanding an end to the TTIP negotiations shows that the EU does not have the public mandate to continue this deal," the organization's director, Nick Dearden, adds. "People across Europe are standing up to protect our labour rights, our environmental standards and vital public services, like the [National Health Service], from TTIP. Everything that we know about this secretive trade deal shows that it is very little about trade and very much about enshrining a massive corporate power grab."