When Greenpeace leaked key sections of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP] [previously] to European media, most notably reporters at the venerable Süddeutsche Zeitung, Barack Obama’s must’ve uttered a cruse, or at least grabbed for a Marlboro.
As senator from Illinois, Obama was a steadfast ally of Monsanto and its drive to gain control over the world’s agriculture through its genetically engineered crops and patented herbicides used to ensure their survival.
But the TTIP leaks have set off a mighty uproar in Europe, derailing any chance the deal will be done while Obama’s still in the White House.
Larry Elliott, the Guardian’s economics editor, explains why:
Was it really feasible that TTIP could be pushed through in little more than three years? Not a chance.
There are three reasons for that. First, the main barriers to trade between the US and the EU are not traditional tariff barriers, which have been steadily whittled away in the decades since the second world war, but the differing regulatory regimes that operate on either side of the Atlantic. America and Europe have different views on everything from GM food to safety standards on cars so harmonising standards was always going to take a lot of time.
Second, the talks have involved controversial issues and have been taking place when trust in politicians and business has rarely been lower. The main driving forces behind TTIP have been multinational corporations and business lobby groups, who stand to gain from harmonised regulations. With information about the secret negotiations having to be chiselled out by groups hostile to TTIP, voters have drawn the obvious conclusion: the aim of the talks is to enrich big business even if it means playing fast and loose with environmental and health standards.
Which leads to the final and most important factor: there are no votes in trade. It would have been no surprise had Angela Merkel voiced strong opposition to the state of the TTIP negotiations, given the level of public antipathy to the trade deal in Germany and her delicate position in the polls ahead of elections next year.
Instead, the German chancellor was beaten to it by François Hollande (also facing a showdown with the voters in 2017) who has made it clear he will not sign TTIP in its current form. Years not months of hard slog lie ahead, by which time the US is likely to have a president much less wedded to the idea of striking trade deals. TTIP has just been kicked into the long grass for a very long time, and perhaps for good.
Publication of the leaks has also roused public opinion in Germany, as revealed in a new poll reported by Deutsche Welle:
A new poll published on Wednesday assessing German attitudes toward the government found that a clear majority of people view the trade deal as harmful and worry it could undermine consumer protection.
According to the survey, conducted by German broadcaster ARD, 70 percent of the participants said they believe the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has more disadvantages than it does advantages. That’s a steep increase from the 2014 survey, which found that 55 percent of Germans viewed the agreement negatively.
Seventeen percent of participants said they saw the deal as being advantageous for Germany, while 13 percent said they didn’t know or had no position.
Additionally, 79 percent of the survey’s participants said they believed the agreement would hurt consumer protection, while 83 percent expressed dissatisfaction with the secretive way in which the government handled the negotiations.
There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading