Calling on the Scottish government to reject the undemocratic TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), 21 grassroots organizations on Tuesday joined tens of thousands of petitioners in demanding the Scottish National Party (SNP) take a tougher stand against the controversial trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union.
"TTIP threatens the Scottish Government's ability to [make] decisions in the interests of the public and the environment without fear of getting sued by U.S. multinational companies," said Liz Murray, head of campaigns and policy at Global Justice Now's Scottish office.
"TTIP is more than just a trade deal," she said, "it is a handover of power to corporations on a scale not seen before—and the strength of public opinion against TTIP is growing, almost daily it seems."
In a letter published Tuesday in Scotland's The National newspaper, the groups said the TTIP would allow corporations "to sue governments if they make public policy decisions, such as banning fracking, which business could argue would harm profits. And while these deals threaten to lower standards which currently protect people, public services and the environment, there is little evidence that they will bring the promised benefits of growth and jobs."
The call comes just one day after leaked documents reveal that European governments have instructed their representatives at the COP21 summit to block any discussion of measures to combat climate change that might be a "restriction on international trade."
According to The Independent on Monday, "the EU has instructed its representatives to prevent the UN from launching any future work program to look into the issue of trade measures and climate change, or from setting up formal links with the World Trade Organization as the international body tasked with overseeing global trade rules. When it comes to the issue of technology transfer that might assist poorer countries in climate change mitigation, the EU instructs its representatives to block any challenges to the existing 'intellectual property rights' regime that favors the continuing corporate control of technology."
As War on Want executive director John Hilary wrote in response to the new revelations:
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The EU knows that it cannot maintain its fiction of being a "global leader" in the fight against global warming while it pushes ahead with a new generation of climate-hostile free trade deals. Yet instead of addressing the hypocrisy of its position, the EU has told its representatives to block any discussion in Paris.
The governments of Europe would rather condemn the world’s most vulnerable communities to the full impact of runaway climate change than open up an honest debate of the issues. Shame on them.
Late last month, separate revelations exposed what Hilary described as "the full degree of collusion between the European commission and multinational corporations seeking to use TTIP to increase U.S. exports of fossil fuels."
Scotland is emerging as a nexus of TTIP opposition. The National reports on Tuesday:
To date the Scottish Government has rejected elements of TTIP—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – including risks it presents to the NHS in terms of forcing it to be open to privatization as well as to the treaty’s proposals for corporate courts enabling large corporations to can take legal action against governments.
However, unlike the Greens and Scottish Labour, which passed a motion at its autumn conference last month rejecting the treaty, the SNP and the Scottish Government have yet to come out wholly against it.
Opposition to the TTIP has been steadily growing across Europe. The petition delivered Tuesday targets the SNP and specifically Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's Minister for Culture, Europe, and External Affairs.