The EU has been debating with the US and Canada on two major trade agreements: TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) respectively. Both agreements have been loudly contested by Slow Food and civil society at large, as they grant special rights to corporations whilst threatening democracy, the environment and social standards. So, how far are we now in the negotiations?
CETA was concluded in 2014 and early in July the European Commission confirmed that the EU’s 28 national parliaments will have to vote on the treaty before it can be definitively adopted. Meanwhile, the EU-US 14th round of negotiations took place in July. However, TTIP negotiators seem to be stuck on key issues like agriculture, services and public procurement chapters, as well as rules on geographical indications for food products.
Civil society across Europe and the US has been fighting hard against both agreements. National governments have, in some cases, responded. France, for instance, has been very critical of TTIP. However, don’t let yourself be fooled, says José Bové, member of the European Parliament, well-known farmer and member of the alter-globalization movement.
“The French government focuses on TTIP and shouts all around that it does not want this agreement. This is an orchestrated campaign, aiming to prevent citizens from focusing on the trade agreement with Canada. Negotiations on CETA were concluded at the end of 2014. The agreement could be ratified and implemented before the end of this year. That’s what’s urgent. TTIP is blocked and so CETA becomes the Trojan horse of global enterprises to impose arbitrary courts, the lowering of environmental and social standards. And again agriculture will be the most hard hit sector.”
“The European Union has obtained the recognition of only one out of every 10 protected designations of origin” clarifies José Bové on CETA and the EU quality schemes for food products, with 380 products registered as protected designations of origin (PDO). “This agreement will ruin tens of thousands of farming families. What’s more, it’s illegal, as it leads to discrimination between the different PDO products. Why was this one chosen and the other one not? Because a minister lobbied? To protect the economic interests of a multinational? We live in a democracy. There are rules, there are rights and any changes to those cannot be taken arbitrarily by governments. Our citizens must mobilize against CETA as they did against TTIP.”
Slow Food has joined many national and EU level initiatives to say STOP to TTIP and CETA, from a demonstration last May in Rome involving over 30,000 citizens, to letters written to national governments and EU institutions asking that they put people first, rather than profits. More actions are in the making, with two meetings happening at Terra Madre; “They are Giants, but We Are Millions” featuring José Bové and “TTIP: What Does It Foresee and What Does the Agreement Between Europe and USA Mean?”. There will also be a large event in Brussels in October, where Slow Food will present the wealth of food biodiversity, cultures and local communities that we want to protect and promote. These can all thrive through local food economies, not through TTIP or CETA.