Source – ragingbullshit.com
– Barcelona’s left-wing city council has voted against adopting the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the highly controversial multilateral trade agreement being negotiated behind closed doors by the U.S. and the European Union.
The decision was passed yesterday thanks to support from the left-wing parties that proposed the motion: Barcelona en Común, headed by the city’s mayor Ada Colau; the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the anti-capitalist separatist party Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP).
The “mainstream” socialists PSC and center-right pro-independence party Covergencia abstained while Spain’s deeply conservative governing People’s Party and fellow rightwing upstarts Ciudadanos voted against the motion.
In a public statement Barcelona’s deputy mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, warned that TTIP represents an “all-out attack on popular sovereignty.” While the vote is largely symbolic — it will be Spain’s central government that will have final say in the issue — and has received virtually no attention in the mainstream press, it forms part of a growing rebellion at local government level against the global corporatocracy’s plans to build a post-democratic form of international governance.
As I reported on WOLF STREET in May, countries like Spain and Germany are at the leading edge of a grassroots resistance blossoming on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean:
A growing number of local communities [in the U.S.] have passed resolutions in recent months expressing opposition to fast track. They include the councils of small provincial towns as well as sprawling metropolises such as New York City, Seattle, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Columbus, Ohio.
It is not hard to see why local councils have their reservations: if TPP is finalized, they will be among the biggest losers, as their room for maneuver and policy choices are significantly curtailed. Thanks to ISDS, local laws in the public interest, such as campaigns to support local businesses or introduce GMO labeling, could — and almost certainly would — be challenged by foreign corporations half a world away…
…In my local region of Catalonia, Spain (total population: circa 7 million) 29 councils have already declared their opposition to TTIP.
“What we have learnt about the negotiations shows that it will have direct effects on democracy, popular sovereignty and the welfare state system,” says Carmen Garcia Lores, the Mayor of Rubí, a small town on the edge of Barcelona that recently voted to reject the trade agreement.
According to Lores, more and more councils are opting out of TTIP — even before it’s been signed! “In Germany more than 1,000 have signed up to the movement, in Austria more than 250 and in France more than 100.” If anything, the strength of opposition in Europe is more intense and widespread than in the U.S. Opposition is strongest in Germany – where 1.2 million people signed a “Stop TTIP” petition in just ten weeks. But there has also been increasing opposition in France, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, and even the UK – traditionally the most Atlanticist EU member state
According to a policy brief by the influential think tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), policy makers in national governments and parliaments as well as in the EU would do well to take public opposition to TTIP very seriously. On June 10 the European parliament is scheduled to issue an opinion on TTIP. The vote isn’t binding – we Europeans already have permanent “fast track” as our largely neutered parliament can only say yes or no to any trade agreement. Even so, if the parliament rejects TTIP it could send a very powerful message to the Commission, as well as to Europe at large.
The EU’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has tried to placate opposition forces by offering promises — albeit largely empty ones — of more transparency as well as reforms of the ISDS system, by far the biggest bone of contention. She has suggested making the ISDS arbitration tribunals more like traditional courts, with a view to eventually setting up a permanent international investment court, but unimpressed EU lawmakers failed to greet her proposal as full-fledged reform, while the U.S. rejected the idea outright.
The Sweet Sound of Fear
Meanwhile, the voices of dissent continue to grow. Even on the hallowed pages of the Financial Times questions are being raised. According to Martin Wolf, not only are TTIP’s economic gains unlikely to be large, there is the risk that the WTO will be sidelined as well as the growing perception that the “US is using its clout to impose regulations that are not in the interests of its partners,” including brutally rigid intellectual property protection laws.
“Tread carefully,” Wolf warns. “Overreaching could prove counterproductive even to the cause of global trade liberalization.” Wolf’s concerns are echoed by the ECFR, which recommends scrapping ISDS and taking a less ambitious approach to trade negotiations:
Even if the EU and U.S. succeed [in reaching an agreement], a failure to engage with public concern on both sides of the Atlantic could cause an even greater backlash against globalization and trade liberalization in the future.
You can almost hear the sweet sound of fear – the fear of a big public backlash. By refusing to even inform the people of its malign intentions, then rubbishing public concerns when news was leaked, the corporatocracy may have, as Martin Wolf puts it, overreached this time. One can only hope he’s right! By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.