Left MEPs are putting forward the case for a citizen’s trade agenda today at a special conference in the European Parliament, co-organised by the group and the Transnational Institute (TNI).
GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer opened the conference, stating that this conference was crucial as it ensures that ruling elites see that there is resistance to their policies.
She said: “TTIP is an important focal point of our protest, but at the same time we must also fight TISA, CETA, and the TPP*. All these agreement are a threat to transparency and democracy and are designed to reinforce a transatlantic power block that favours corporate power over people. Cooperation is essential in the fight against these trade agreements.”
Activists, national and regional parliamentarians, trade unionists and civil society from both sides of the Atlantic are attending the conference. Among the keynote speakers are TNI President Susan George, Priscilla Bittar (Conseil central du Montréal Métropolitain), and Dr. Michael Efler, a representative from the Stop TTIP European Citizens´ Initiative.
Zimmer continued: “The fight is not just about trade – it’s about democracy, social rights, the environment, and cultural diversity. In short, it is about how we want to live in the future.”
MEP Helmut Scholz said: “We are proud to provide a networking platform for more than 80 organisations from both sides of the Atlantic. This conference, already the third of its kind, will help us to strengthen the synergies we need to defeat agreements that are clearly not in the interests of citizens. They do not want to be sold out in Investor-to-State dispute settlements. They do not want to put their public services at risk. They want to maintain control over food quality and labour standards. Together we will strive for a citizens’ trade agenda.”
“These free trade agreements have such a huge impact on our lives yet they are incredibly complex and so little is known about them,” MEP Anne-Marie Mineur commented. “For this reason it is essential to get as many people together as possible. We need to exchange all the information we have, and join forces.”
MEP Eleonora Forenza said: “TTIP’s liberalisation agenda will undermine public services and social rights such as public healthcare, environmental protection, and labour standards. This is why we are working with a strong and growing movement of policymakers, social movements and NGOs on an alternative trade mandate that puts people and the planet before big business. EU trade policy needs to be fundamentally democratised, as part of a wider democratisation of Europe – this is our mission.”
* TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership); TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement); CETA (Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement); and TTP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).