www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Molly Scott Cato: I've seen the secrets of TTIP, and it is bui
nettime's_roving_reporter on Thu, 5 Feb 2015 04:21:37 +0100 (CET)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Molly Scott Cato: I've seen the secrets of TTIP, and it is built for corporations not citizens


< http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/04/secrets-ttip-corporations-not-citizens-transatlantic-trade-deal >

I've seen the secrets of TTIP, and it is built for corporations not citizens

   Molly Scott Cato
   As an MEP I'm party to the transatlantic trade deal's inner workings.
   I'm sworn to secrecy, but this much I can say: TTIP is undemocratic

   US chief trade negotiator Dan Mullaney, left, and EU chief trade
   negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero
   US chief trade negotiator Dan Mullaney, left, and his EU couterpart
   Ignacio Garcia Bercero, prior to talks on the TTIP. Photograph:
   Virginia Mayo/AP

   Wednesday 4 February 2015 16.07 GMT
     * Share on Facebook
     * Share on Twitter
     * Share via Email
     * Share on LinkedIn
     * Share on Google+
     * Share on WhatsApp

   It appears that, even though I am past 50, my opportunities to become a
   spy have not expired. This is because, as an MEP, I have now been
   granted privileged access to the European parliament restricted reading
   room to explore documents relating to the Transatlantic Trade and
   Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal. But before I had the right to see
   such "top secret" documents, which are restricted from the gaze of most
   EU citizens, I was required to sign a document of some 14 pages,
   reminding me that "EU institutions are a valuable target" and of the
   dangers of espionage. Crucially, I had to agree not to share any of the
   contents with those I represent.

   The delightful parliamentary staff required me to leave even the
   smallest of my personal items in a locked cupboard, as they informed me
   how tiny cameras can be these days. Like a scene from a James Bond
   film, they then took me through the security door into a room with
   secure cabinets from which the documents were retrieved. I was not at
   any point left alone.

   This week hundreds of protesters against TTIP have descended on the
   European parliament. They are quite rightly concerned about the threat
   that this treaty poses to the British government's ability to
   conduct its affairs in their interests. On a range of issues, from food
   safety standards and animal welfare to public services and financial
   regulation, there are deep concerns that the harmonisation of standards
   across the Atlantic really means a reduction of standards on both
   sides.

   But how are we to know for certain? All discussions about TTIP have
   been hypothetical, since the negotiations are taking place in secret.
   In order to read even brief notes of what has been discussed I have to
   be reminded of my duties not to undertake espionage for foreign powers.
   Repeated complaints about secrecy from my fellow Green members have
   resulted in our being admitted to the restricted reading room but
   we are still not able to share what we discover there with our
   constituents or with journalists. What we do know is that 92% of those
   involved in the consultations have been corporate lobbyists. Of the 560
   lobby encounters that the commission had, 520 were with business
   lobbyists and only 26 (4.6%) were with public interest groups. This
   means that, for every encounter with a trade union or consumer group,
   there were 20 with companies and industry federations.

   Related: This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on
   democracy | George Monbiot

   What I am able to reveal from my visit to the library is that I left
   without any sense of reassurance either that the process of negotiating
   this trade deal is democratic, or that the negotiators are operating on
   behalf of citizens. The whole process, from the implicit accusation of
   industrial espionage, to the recognition about who is actually engaged
   in the negotiations, makes it clear that this is a corporate
   discussion, not a democratic one. I picture a room full of bureaucrats
   trying to find ways to facilitate the business of the world's most
   powerful companies, many of which have a turnover larger than the
   economic activity of some EU member states.

   So why would anyone want a world that contains a giant trading area
   stretching from Alaska to the Black Sea? I think the vision arises from
   a sense of the need to order and control; the sense that uniformity is
   equivalent to security. But it is also clear that the decisions about
   what this uniform system of regulation and trade would look like are
   devised by corporations whose very DNA is the profit motive, and which
   are legally required to serve shareholders at the expense of all
   others.

   Culturally, as a Green, I would always be opposed to this vision and
   therefore this treaty. However, looking kindly on the impulse to create
   such standardisation, I try to imagine that the rules were ones I would
   be happy to see: high standards of animal welfare, bans on dangerous
   pesticides, financial regulation designed to achieve stability, to name
   a few.

   The TTIP negotiations are taking up a great deal of time at a moment
   when the European project seems threatened on numerous fronts: the debt
   crisis, climate change, and the war in Ukraine, to name but three. I
   would question this investment of resources at this time in a treaty
   that seems doomed never to achieve the political support it will
   require. It is also costing a considerable amount of money. The
   question of the costs associated with the TTIP deal was an issue I
   raised with the commission, and something I am at liberty to disclose.
   Since July 2013, there have been seven rounds of negotiations,
   alternating between Brussels and Washington. The costs incurred so far
   range from EUR60,000 for a round in Brussels to up to EUR180,000 for a
   round in Washington.

   My visit to the parliamentary library was an interesting reminder of
   the limitations of democratic accountability in the globalised,
   corporatised world of 2015, where the citizen is sidelined. Even as a
   representative of 5 million, my role is mainly to be a consultee; a
   stakeholder.

   We hear much criticism of the "nanny state", but the world according to
   TTIP is more like Big Brother Corporation, where individual preferences
   are swept aside in the onward march of progress and order. It is the
   disturbing and unsettling worldview that David Korten envisaged in his
   1995 book, When Corporations Rule the World. At the time the title
   seemed rhetorical; outlandish even. It seems considerably less so
   today.



   2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
   All rights reserved.


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mx.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org