Friday, 11 December 2015


The UK Westminster Government appears to be entirely set on pushing ahead with TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) regardless of any potential consequences for our public services. Devolution, even the flawed settlement we have, means our public services are devolved to Wales, the devolved government should be granted a veto in order to protect our NHS and other services from sweeping privatisation.

Public services should be in public hands and markets should be democratically accountable for their decisions. Public services such as our Welsh national health service should not be put at risk as a result of shadowy dealings that the UK Government is so desperate to sign up to. We need to ensure that our public services are protected from being plundered for profit by multi-nationals companies and that they remain democratically accountable.

The impending US-EU trade agreement aims to merge the EU's common market with that of the United States, but without any of the built in social and political safeguards, which are at least nominally supposed to exist within in the EU. The problem is that much of the negotiations have been conducted in secret.

Surely if there was nothing to hide then the discussions should be held in full public session and full texts of the proposals published as a matter of routine. For any trade deal to have wider public support, it must unquestionably drop any proposals for a shadow corporate legal system and ensure that the EU’s already existing environmental and social safeguards are maintained.

Any trade deal that does go ahead should definitely not be a large corporation closed shop in relation to trading across the Atlantic, as it most definitely appears at the moment. 99% of Welsh companies are SMEs, they make up the backbone of the Welsh economy - and they deserve as much of a look in with any trade deal as the big companies.

The agreement is highly controversial, the TTIP agreement risks opening up more areas of public services (including within the NHS) to private competition (something which suits the privatisation agenda of most of the Westminster based political parties), particularly those services where there is already non-government provision such as with social care.

The reality is that a strong and very productive trading relationship already exists between the EU and US. And this is a good thing. What the TTIP agreement as it is proposed will do, is give corporations unprecedented power over our public services and seriously threaten democratic decisions in the pursuit of company profit.

By discussing these issues in secret, negotiators from both sides are doing deals behind closed doors, which do not have public support and will remain largely un-discussed and un-scrutinised. We need a full honest and open debate about what TTIP should include, based on what is best for people, not multi-national companies and American trade and our own Welsh government should be standing up for our national interests.

After the financial crisis of 2007/08 and the resultant bail out of the private sector it might have been hoped that the pendulum might have swung in favour of democracy to rebalance flawed corporate power. That said, it is apparent that the Westminster based political parties don’t think so hence their relative silence on the implications of TTIP on our public services.

We need a much more democratic economy, driven and shaped by the needs of the people it serves. The TTIP agreement threatens this basic principle and as is should be rejected. The complete lack of transparency is disturbing particularly as much of the negotiation have ominously been conducted behind closed doors and little has been divulged in terms of the exact content and the level of the risk to our public services.

In its current form TTIP means that Europe will be subject to American-style 'light touch' regulation for corporate take-overs and practices. It threatens to open up our public services to the possibility of aggressive private take-overs. More disturbingly the profits of corporations will be 'future proofed’ so that any changes to laws or regulations by democratically elected governments will be open to corporate challenge.

As if bailing the banks out with public money was not bad enough, this means that all of us taxpayers may end up having to pay to make up for the potential loss of projected corporate profits. That loss of democratic accountability over our public services may well also mean that future decisions will not be subject to review by our own judiciary, but instead referred to private, corporate, closed-door courts.

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