Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

What's to fear about TTIP

Several dozens of my prospective voters in the South Norfolk constituency have written to me to ask me for my commitments regarding TTIP, which is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, being debated in secret by EU officials.
I record here a generic version of my thoughts on this topic which I have been sending over the last few days to these voters:

I believe that TTIP is among the great threats that we face, and this one is from within our own EU—not some aggression from Russia or foreign terrorists. This is our own politicians, entrusted with the care of our interests, and they are betraying us in secret. The episode is symptomatic of the complete disregard for democracy, and for the interests of the country as a whole, or for the common good. It’s a deal that stands to benefit no one but the largest corporations and multinationals. Its effects on small businesses in the UK, on farmers and producers and on workers wages and rights will be devastating, and the government will lose more in falling income from import duties and greater costs due to falling wages/increased poverty at home than it stands to gain in trade.

This is not just about the NHS (though that is a worry anyway, with or without TTIP: we in the Green Party are in favour of keeping the NHS public and getting rid of existing PFI systems and privatisation schemes, but much of the evil has already been done and will take years to unpick)—but is about the whole structure of the modern neo-liberal consensus across parties and across Europe, which is generating ever greater inequalities between the haves and the have-nots. I know why the EU is working on the TTIP: because the austerity programme in Europe has ruined the EU's trade and prosperity from within and created a long and unprecedented period of depression, because all the markets are affected together by the coordinated austerity programme. The solution is not to sell out to the US (or anyone else) but to stop the programme of austerity that’s causing the problem, and look for an economic system that can cope with stability instead of growth and a long-term self-sufficiency that does not involve exploiting the labour force and the planet. Let’s face it: we have immense wealth in this country, or would have, if it were not siphoned off to tax havens for the millionaires, but it’s not being fairly or gainfully used to support the right investments in the right projects to benefit the working people or the planet. Thankfully Greece has started a move to resist the old consensus and ask the difficult questions.

Only the Green Party offers a coherent solution to this combination of issues. As was evident in the debate in Norwich, the other parties are all fudging it, because they are all (including Labour) committed to the TTIP (even UKIP have not come out against it but have been voting for it insofar as they vote at all in Europe, though Stuart Agnew seemed to be trying to erase that truth or make some virtue of it). Only the Green Party is explicitly *against TTIP*, and in favour of reforming Europe to be more democratic. The Green Party favours an in/out referendum on Europe. It favours ending the austerity economics that is causing the downturn in trade in Europe and worldwide. It favours investing in making Britain and Europe energy-self-sufficient and sustainable on a slow to zero growth basis for the future without fossil fuels, so that prosperity can return and wages can rise to a level at which no one must beg for loans and food parcels. This is a new look Europe and a new look Britain, fit for a planet which is overheating and becoming too unequal and unkind.

This is my Party, and my position, and if you vote for me I will not compromise these principles.

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