Cameron’s TTIP ambitions in tatters, as Greek anti-austerity government commit to sinking the deal
THE future of a trade deal promoted extensively by the UK and the US is in jeopardy after a leading figure in Syriza, the leading party of Greece’s new anti-austerity coalition government, said “I can ensure you that a Parliament where Syriza holds the majority will never ratify the deal”.
Georgios Katrougkalos, a former Syriza MEP who quit his European Parliament seat to become deputy minister for administrative reform, told EurActiv that Syriza’s oppositon to TTIP “will be a big gift not only to the Greek people but to all the European people.”
The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an EU-US trade deal that is intended to open up markets to corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Those in favour of the deal have said it could create tens of thousands of jobs and boost economic growth, but its detractors have said the trade deal would lead to the corporate takeover of Europe’s public services, including threatening the future of the NHS in the UK.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said at a recent G8 summit that he was going to “put rocket boosters” up the negotiations between the EU and the US over TTIP, to get the deal done.
However, TTIP was dealt a blow recently when it was announced that the EU was taking the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process off the table, and that it was unlikely negotiations would be complete over the trade deal this year. ISDS is a legal mechanism to resolve conflict between multinational corporations and nation-states through an international corporate court, whose decisions are binding on governments with no recourse for appeal.
The Syriza announcement lends a further blow to TTIP, as nation-states must ratify the deal in the EU Parliament, before a further ratification process in the EU Council, where all 28 member states sit. In both circumstances, each member state carries the power of veto.
Katrougkalos stated that the secrecy surrounding the TTIP negotiations was wrong: “An undemocratic practice of lack of transparency has prevailed from the very beginning of the negotiations.”
Katrougkalos also said the purpose of TTIP was to weaken government regulation so multinational corporations could swoop in.
“For example we [the EU] don’t permit GMOs, data protection is significantly more important as well as the protection of national health systems,” he said, adding that any consolidation of regulations under TTIP “will undermine the way the welfare state is organised in the EU”.
Syriza’s coalition partners, the right-wing Independent Greeks, also stated they were opposed TTIP, giving the Greek government a parliamentary majority in opposition to the trade deal.