Opposing Corporate Coup, Campaigners Block Trade Talk Doors
As European Union and U.S. negotiators arrived for the latest round of controversial trade talks in Brussels on Monday, opponents of the mammoth TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) made their resistance known by blockading access to the negotiating site for hours.
The demonstration highlighted growing, transcontinental opposition to the pro-corporate trade agreement, which would impact 800 million people and account for nearly 30 percent of the global economy.
“Trade policy should not be a backdoor for corporations to challenge or dissuade measures to tackle climate change. It’s time to drop investor-state dispute mechanisms in any form, stop harmful trade deals and start taking necessary action to stop climate destruction.”
—Colin Roche, Friends of the Earth Europe
Beginning Monday morning, 30 Greenpeace activists from seven countries chained themselves at the entrances of a conference center where the meeting was due to take place. Some demonstrators climbed the front of the building to deploy a large banner depicting a ‘dead-end’ road sign that read: “TTIP: dead end trade deal.”
The blockade was lifted only after Belgian police secured a side entrance for negotiators.
Demanding an end to the talks, Greenpeace vowed “to continue to take peaceful action against TTIP to defend democracy, people, and the environment.”
“This trade deal is not about trade,” said Greenpeace TTIP campaigner Susan Jehoram Cohen on Monday. “It’s about the transfer of power from people to big business.”
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She continued: “What the Commission calls barriers to trade are in fact the safeguards that keep toxic pesticides out of our food or dangerous pollutants out of the air we breathe. The negotiators who were supposed to meet in secret today want to weaken these safeguards to maximize corporate profits, whatever the costs for society and the environment. It’s our responsibility to expose them and give a voice to the millions who oppose this trade deal.”
Indeed, close to 3.5 million European citizens have already signed an EU petition against the TTIP, while hundreds of thousands have voiced their opposition in the streets of Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, and other capitals.
Significant concerns have been lodged regarding plans to set up a special TTIP tribunal for foreign investors, which Greenpeace and many others decry as “a major instrument in the handover of power to big business.”
EU sources have said this 12th round of negotiations would focus—for the first time—on these corporate courts, which are a cornerstone of not just the TTIP but also of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the draft EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Meanwhile, a new report (pdf) released Monday by Friends of the Earth Europe, Sierra Club, and the European environmental network Transport & Environment, illustrates the threat of such Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions.
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