EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom’s visit to London to promote the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been met with protest, as MPs say more transparency is needed to address public concern.
Malmstrom’s meeting with
business and political leaders Monday afternoon was an attempt to
shore up more public support for the deal, which has been
criticized for allowing large corporations to flourish at the
expense of small businesses.
Business Secretary Vince Cable will tell the Commissioner there
are many benefits for the US and the EU, but only if politicians
are given access to TTIP as the treaty develops, so that they can
ask questions on behalf of the public.
Protest group StopTTIP UK, however, say Monday’s meeting ignores
the fact “people across the EU are loudly and clearly
rejecting” TTIP, claiming the trade deal could jeopardize
governments’ legal freedom and will lower trade standards.
They also say small businesses will suffer the most, if TTIP is
“There is no evidence to support this claim that TTIP will
benefit [small businesses]. Large corporations will benefit from
opening up of local procurement. [Small businesses] will be
disadvantaged in competition with transnationals.”
“Large scale industrial agriculture will out-compete small
scale producers,” they add.
Critics say TTIP will compromise European governments’ autonomy
and leave them at the mercy of multinational corporations.
The investor protection dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in
the trade deal will allow companies to sue governments, the fear
of which, critics argue, will prevent the process of developing
There are fears, too, that while Malmstrom says the standard of
trade regulations will not be lowered, the harmonization of trade
regulations means lower standards are inevitable.
StopTTIP say this will put the UK’s “health, safety and
environment” at risk.
“In coming to London, Ms Malmstrom is visiting the very core
of the TTIP push. Behind the gold chains of the City of London,
the transnational financial services industry is at the heart of
promoting TTIP and the rest of the EU’s ‘trade’ agenda. European
citizens have spoken but who will she be listening to while she
is here?” asks Linda Kaucher of StopTTIP UK.
Cable believes strong opposition to the trade deal could be
pacified if MPs are given the same access as members of the
European Parliament (MEPs) to view TTIP negotiating materials.
Cable said he opposed the levels of secrecy surrounding the deal.
“I dislike the level of secrecy that has surrounded the
transatlantic trade deal so far and can completely understand why
some people are worried. I have met many campaign groups over the
last nine months to discuss this and taken on board many of their
concerns. I will be working to ensure all British interests are
protected and that the deal can be properly scrutinized,”
“Where our interests are not harmed by disclosure, then
disclosure must take place. At the moment people in Britain with
questions about what is on the negotiating table for TTIP think
that Europe and the US have something to hide.”
He added: “This is not the case. I have been pushing for as
much of the negotiation as possible to be done out in the