By Tine Spang Olsen
Workers’ Communist Party of Denmark APK
Article for Unity & Stuggle #30
In the last 20 years multinational companies based in the US have used investment and so-called free trade agreements as a tool to achieve economic and political dominance. Also the European Union has applied this method, and for some years the EU and US have been negotiating new trade agreements with the purpose of creating a transatlantic market, where the rules of trade and investments are dictated exclusively by the corporations.
If these plans are realized, the result will be the creation of what aptly has been called ‘a NATO of Economics’.
They are intended to secure the US and EU supremacy in the global economy forever. As a part of the inter-imperialist competition these plans are not least directed towards Russia, China and the other BRICS countries.
The negotiations have taken place behind closed doors with the consultative assistance of Monsanto, Toyota, General Motors, the pharmaceutical industry, IBM, the US Chamber of Commerce, Food and Drink Europe (on behalf of corporations like Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé etc), Business Europe and many other representatives of the interests of Capital.
The talks are scheduled to be concluded and the agreements signed before the end of 2015.
Standards of protection of workers, environmental protection, protection of health and privacy are considered as technical barriers to trade, and will therefore be established through supra national negotiations. Hard won rights in the different countries will be pushed aside, if these agreements are realized. It will open a freeway of GMO products, also in countries that have rejected such products. These agreements constitute a frontal attack from the EU and US on established rights and national self determination.
Denmark is now at risk of becoming subject to the following agreements: TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: EU and US), CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement: EU and Canada) and TISA (Trade In Services Agreement: EU,US and a number of other countries).
The agreements will override the national parliaments and the bourgeois democracy as the highest organs of sovereignty in a long row of decisive areas. The contradictions are not between the countries, but between the multinational companies and the imperialist state organisms and the majority of the population on both sides of the Atlantic!
Transatlantic union: ‘A NATO of Economics’
Some new documents from the closed negations on TTIP have recently been leaked. They are about the so-called Regulatory Council, that is intended to hold the final decisions in all legislation in these areas in the EU countries and US. The idea and its wording is an almost direct copy of a proposal from the lobbyist organizations Business Europe and US Chamber of Commerce from 2012.
The trade and investment agreements are ‘too important to let their contents be known’, as the British newspaper The Guardian wrote. What the public knows concretely has been revealed through leaks that have clarified their direction and intentions.
The whole idea of TTIP is to remove barriers to the sale of the products of the multinational companies for a maximum of profits in a single and unified transatlantic market. In some areas the EU have the strongest regulations, in others it is the US.
The overriding principle is to remove upper limits of toxic chemicals, the right to exclude areas of public welfare from the quest for profits, limitations on financial speculation and restrictions in other areas as listed above.
If TTIP is established, it follows that the talks will not stop with the signing of the treaty. They will continue behind the closed doors on the further deregulation of the new transatlantic market. Adopting mutual joint standards will not be the end of it.
New rules have to be established within existing legislation and future laws must be adapted, and for this purpose the Regulatory Council will be set up, consisting of representatives of the European Commission and the US government. The latter will be represented among others by OIRA (Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs). OIRA is an agency under the budget office of the US government with the task of transforming already decided regulations into concrete laws. It is infamous for, as a state within the state, to delay legislation, that embodies limitations to industry.
Any law in any national parliament that might be of consequence to the market in the transatlantic region must in principle be accepted or suggested from this council in advance. The council shall function both as a complaints board and as author of new legislation and rules.
The council can intervene if
– a company finds legislation within the EU/US to be hampering to its activities
– if any EU country or the EU or US perceives a new law to be passed by the other part to be inhibiting to industrial activities.
Before for instance the European Commission proposes a new law the council must be heard if this law will be acceptable to the industry? Or may it be viewed as a barrier to trade?
The establishment of the regulating council means a new level of decision making in a huge transatlantic union. A level of power transfer that offers the possibility of nullifying all parliamentary game rules. Monopoly capital is directly placed as the highest authority of our societies in the ‘NATO of economy’.
The European Union was born to gradually create a supranational Union State – a kind of United States of Europe. In this case the EU is used as a stepping stone to prepare the way for a supra national governance at an even more advanced level. This will affect basic areas – everything that comes under the category of ‘trade’ – with great consequences for the entire makeup of society.
There exists a great aversion, and also an organized opposition, in many EU countries and on the entire European and American continent against the broad attacks directed against our rights. This is true in regard to the peoples, but also to a certain extent expressed in the national parliaments and the European Parliament. Concerned about the public opposition the EU negotiators have– claimed that they will defend European standards concerning the environment. They swear they will never allow genetically modified food, chlorinated chicken or beef pumped with hormones to be sold in the EU.
These promises are of course empty and mendacious, since the entire deal is about harmonizing our standards in all areas – and that means downwards! In regard to environment and health the state of affairs is even worse in the US than in EU.
But all Danish ministers have like parrots repeated the promotional material, they have received from the propaganda office of the European Union:
– TTIP will mean jobs and growth. And No – We are not worried about anything!
It is clear that it is not the Danish government that will create any obstacles to TTIP.
TISA: Everything that can yield a profit must be privatized
In 2013 negotiations were launched in Geneva to create the ‘Trade in Services Agreement’, known as TISA, with the US and EU in front. This is an out-and-out neo-liberal agreement intended to turn practically all services into goods and to regulate the trade of services on a world scale. That is to apply the ‘law’ of the multinationals to this vast field.
This agreement will privatize almost EVERYTHING that still belongs to the public sector and may yield a profit. At the same time it will stop regulations and limitations to finance capital.
In combination with the free trade agreements, military power, monopoly on food through GMO, ownership of water resources, land and energy, surveillance and media control on opinion making, the purpose is to create a world of the unlimited and unrestrained dictatorship of Capital.
In order to start things rolling in favor of an unlimited and unregulated capitalist world economy the talks on TISA are conducted outside the present framework created by imperialism in order to control world trade such as WTO and GATT.
By doing this they try to evade such opposition as was expressed in earlier talks in the Doha Round, particularly from the poor countries, and link up with the talks on TTIP and TTP (Trans-Pacific Partnership: 12 countries, including US).
These talks are also conducted in secrecy. No papers for the negotiations are published and very little was known about their contents, until Wikileaks leaked a paper from the talks concerning the financial sector. According to Wikileaks is it not only the negotiations that are kept secret. Also the text of the agreement is supposed to be kept secret the first five years of the agreement period.
The idea is that by reaching an agreement among this group of ‘strong’ countries it will be possible to update the regulations of GATT and WTO in this direction, and thus trump the rest of the countries of the world.
The treaty will for instance remove limitations for moving personal and financial data across the borders and limit so called ‘unfair’ advantages for public owned corporations. It will put an end to state managed pension funds that are named as monopolies.
All kinds of public services such as child care, postal services, the health sector, waste systems, power plants, schools, television and radio, water, electricity, education, culture, museums etc. can be demanded privatized. And if this privatization turns out to be a failure, shall it anyway be forbidden to place it in the public domain again. The target is that 90 % of all social service functions should be privatized. Also the standard of the services should be regulated in this directions, and the treaty should control the possibilities of governments to regulate key areas of the economy, such as the sector of finance, energy, telecommunication, data deliveries etc,
It is a precondition that limitations and regulations of the financial market never should be harsher that at the present time.
The treaty will protect foreign investors by granting them the right to ignore national legislations about for instance environment, health, financial stability and the interests of society. Like it is the case with the projected TTIP treaty, the corporations will have a right to sue governments, if national laws run counter to the interests of the companies.
This treaty might also hold a ‘stand still’ clause, stating that it shall no longer be legal to introduce new rules in individual countries that limit the investment opportunities of the companies.
The BRICS countries are not part of the negotiations. Nor are the poor countries of the world. As a group the participating countries call themselves The Really Good Friends of Service’ . Besides the US and EU (that count itself as one country in the negotiations) 21 other countries are part of the talks, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Japan, Hong Kong and Norway.
These agreements will mean increased power of the ruling bourgeoisie over their own populations and a strengthening of the fight for world domination of Western imperialism. They will constitute strong oppressive weapons against rights in all spheres of life. They draw up a picture of a future global supra national dictatorship, that in the final analysis belong to the fantasies of neoliberalism.
A neoliberal fantasy of social dumping
When the European Union and the Danish government try to convince of the advantages of an imperialist agreement af TTIP they only have one argument: Increased growth and more jobs. This argument is based on neoliberal calculation models and presumptions at odds with reality.
In spite of the golden promises the calculations of the European Commission itself shoe that TTIP will only mean a modest growth in the EU-countries, estimated to be 0,048 percent. According to the government and the employers’ associations this will mean 15.000 new jobs in Denmark.
The neoliberal ideas behind these calculations are basing themselves on entirely artificial assumptions that contradict the realities of capitalism. The theoretical starting point is a society ruled by the market, where the market always will maintain a balance between supply and demand, also concerning labour power. According to these assumptions free labour power will rapidly be absorbed with new jobs. An increased supply of labour power will automatically create more jobs and in this manner generate growth.
TTIP will also according to the projections of the EU mean that some workers are put out of their jobs. The increased advantages for the multinational corporations will mean, that large groups of workers will ‘change sector’. But the unemployed will in the world of neoliberal theories soon be employed in new jobs.
In the real existing capitalist world something quite different takes place. When the workers ‘change sector’ this means increased unemployment and thus a pressure on wages and lowering of wages. In the neoliberal models there is no unemployment, because the lower wages mean, that the unemployed workers at once are reemployed and growth increases.
Everyone knows that this is not true. Lower wages mean a decrease of purchasing power and consumption, deterioration of sales of goods, fall in production and more layoffs. A negative spiral. In capitalism there will always emerge a crises of overproduction, because the production is not regulated according to needs, but for a market. And the companion of the crises is enevitably increased unemployment.
600.000 jobs will disappear in the European Union
The economist Jeronim Capaldo of ILO has made a different calculation according to another economic model, that resembles the realities of capitalism somewhat more. ILO holds that the European Union will loose a total of 600.000 jobs in a period over 10 years as a consequence of TTIP. The countries of Northern Europe, Denmark included, will be hit more severely, because they trade more with other European countries. Northern Europe stand to loose around 225.000 jobs.
At the same time there will be a decrease of workers’ wages at an average of more than 4500 euro a year. The deficit in GDP will increase.
Both calculations estimate, that trade in the joint market between EU and US will increase with TTIP, while the trade among the European countries will be reduced.
According the model of the European Union 1.1 million workers will ‘change sectot’, but are immediately absorbed into another sector. Who shall believe that?
Increased costs of unemployment and other benefits and retraining are thus not included in the calculation of the European Union. The pressure on the unemployed by cutting the benefits will increase, and accordingly acceptance of underpaid work will be enforced.
The TTIP will mean a significant increase of unemployment and badly lowered wages – besides the rape of national sovereignty, democracy, workers’ rights, environmental protection and health.
Increasing opposition and protest
The opposition to the TTIP and the other secretive so-called free trade agreements is on the rise in the European Union and around the world as the true content of the talks and treaties and their intentions are revealed. Strong popular protests have formerly prevented such agreements as the MAI treaty of the OECD countries, that was defeated in 1998. The fear of the strength of the popular protests are among the reasons why these new series of treaties are negotiated in utmost secrecy and hardly mentioned in the capitalist press.
Though the capitalists of both the US and EU have an outspoken interest applying the agreements at the cost of the working class, employed or without jobs, and of the majority of the populations, there are also other differences of interests within the transatlantic bourgeoisie, that can become barriers to the conclusion of the deals. In effect they are deals among robbers that want the lion’s share for themselves.
There also exist inter-imperialist contradictions between US and EU imperialism, especially between the strongest power in the EU, reborn German imperialism, and the weakened, but potent and aggressive US imperialism, that may impede the way to the conclusion of the treaties.
The global aspect of these treaties, of the transatlantic union and the NATO of Economy, also contributes to a sharpening of the inter-imperialist contradictions on a global scale, thus increasing the prospects of conflicts and wars.
The schedule is set for finalizing the TTIP before the end of the year 2015. There is a limited time to organize and intensify the opposition.
The popular protests are strong and growing, though. By April 1st 2015 a large scale petition in the EU countries had more than 1.627.000 signatures.
On October 1st 2014. protests and demonstrations against the TTIP treaty took place in more than 400 towns and cities. April 18th 2015 was another day of joint action against TTIP and the other treaties, adding new countries and cities to the list of protester.
The opposition to the neoliberal treaties is organising at grass roots level in the different countries, finding new ways and means of struggle, as the grim reality of the content of the treaties is grasped by the public.
In Denmark the campaign is gaining momentum, too. The People’s Movement against the European Union, the strongest political force against the EU and its neoliberal agenda, and represented in the EU parliament, has taken up the struggle against TTIP as one of its main tasks at present.
It is only the organized opposition, on a national, European and global scale, that can defeat such manouvres of international Capital.
Netavisen August 1st 2015