The next round of talks begin on Monday in New York and Obama is worried – unless serious progress is made in coming months, his trade legacy may be doomed. The problem for the US president is selling TTIP at the same time as trying to warn against the dangers of Brexit. This is a tough ask because TTIP has been a godsend for Brexit campaigners, who argue that the deal is a major reason to cut loose from Brussels.
It’s true that TTIP is a symbol of all that’s wrong with Europe: dreamed up by corporate lobbyists, TTIP is less about trade and more about giving big business sweeping new powers over our society. It is a blueprint for deregulation and privatisation. As such it makes a good case for Brexit.
Until you remember that the British government has done everything possible to push the most extreme version of TTIP, just as they’ve fought against pretty much every financial regulation, from bankers bonuses to a financial transaction tax. While Germany and France were concerned about TTIP’s corporate court system – which allows foreign business to sue governments for “unfair” laws like putting cigarettes in plain packets – the UK secretly wrote to the European commission president demanding he retain it.
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At the heart of TTIP is a radical agenda of deregulation. The ambition is that everything from food standards to financial policies are “standardised” in the US and EU, with big business gaining new powers over the process. This could have been inspired by David Cameron’s own programme of stripping away laws that annoy big business, no matter how important they are for people and the environment.
Cameron’s policy means scrapping two laws for every one brought in and giving every regulatory body the duty to have regard to the desirability of “promoting economic growth”. That could include the equality and human rights commission and the health and safety executive. The TUC described Britain as “exporting their anti-worker position into Europe and it is spreading like a bad outbreak of gastric flu”.
Read the rest at the Guardian.