Speaking in relation to the ongoing negotiations between Europe and The United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); Sinn Fein candidate in the upcoming general election Councillor John Brady says there are serious concerns around effects on sovereign democracy and the rights of workers and citizens.
“These talks are almost totally secret. No information is forthcoming unless it is leaked or direct requests are made under freedom of information laws. We do know however that the talks are bent on easing up trade restrictions between the United States and Europe. On the face of it this might sound like a positive development to many, however when we take a look at the kind of issues under discussion such as Health, Water and Education, it is obvious that privatisation of essential public services are firmly on the agenda.”
Councillor Brady went on to describe how efforts to coordinate standards between the United States and Europe by adjusting trade barriers in favour of large multi-national corporations will have a huge impact on European standards and could have a direct impact on jobs in Ireland:
“Legal standards that protect workers and services in Europe are far more lenient in the United States, particularly in the area of food safety regulations and workers’ rights. On the flip side of the coin US financial regulations are much stronger than ours in the wake of the financial crises. European financiers are keen to see the US strip away these regulations in order to give them access to the lucrative American financial sector, while any dilution of worker’s rights in Europe at the request of American interests could see a flight of jobs out of Ireland to cheaper European locations. Essentially these negotiations are lob-sided and focused on serving the needs of large Multi-National Corporation to the detriment of citizens.”
Councillor Brady is concerned that legal protections provided within the European Union could be turned on their head in a way that directly challenges the sovereignty of countries:
“Put simply, the talks are looking at ways in which private companies can sue sovereign states if those governments adopt laws that negatively affect profit potential. A report published recently in the London Independent describes how a Swedish Company is currently suing the German government after they decided to phase out Nuclear power plants as a consequence of the Fukushima catastrophe in Japan. Apparently this is just the tip of the iceberg as the report suggests there are currently 500 similar cases world-wide where sovereign governments who have taken appropriate decisions to protect public well-being are now being sued by wealthy private interests.”
Councillor Brady concluded by calling on all parties to make clear their position on TTIP.
“In the wake of Social Democrat TD Stephen Donnelly’s remarks about TTIP on the Marian Finucane radio show; where it appears his party are sitting on the fence regarding the project, Sinn Fein calls on all parties to provide clarity in relation to their position on the talks. It is not enough to simply sit back and allow secret negotiations to take place to the benefit of wealthy multi-nationals and the detriment of ordinary citizens. It is clear from international commentary that these negotiations and any deal that falls from them has the potential to seriously undermine democratic sovereignty, it could also challenge hard won health and safety regulatory standards, attack protections for workers and directly affect the rights of all citizens. The Fine Gael and Labour coalition should as a matter of urgency release any information they have in relation to the negotiations and inform the Irish people as to what part if any they have played in the process to date.”