All over Bristol noticeboards with warnings about TTIP are springing up in gardens, on railings and beside roads, and one – especially for Mayor George Ferguson – has been planted right in front of City Hall.
This is part of a campaign by the Greater Bristol Alliance and 38 Degrees and supported by the PRSC Green Capital Fringe. The aim is to raise awareness of the potential dangers of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), before a crucial vote on 10th November when local councillors will decide whether Bristol should be a TTIP free zone.
Sue Kilroe, one of the campaign organisers, says: “We are hoping that people will start asking what on earth is TTIP, and we would urge them to look online and find out why this secret trade deal has the potential to completely undermine our democracy. The most damaging part of this massive trade agreement between the United States and the European Union is that it could give multinational corporations the right to sue governments and local authorities whose policies adversely affect their ability to make a profit.”
Why should local councils take a stand against TTIP? This is not an ordinary trade deal. TTIP could require local councils to allow multinational companies to bid for local services such as community care and school contracts, and any attempt to give priority to local providers would be “anti-competitive”. TTIP also aims to “harmonise” environmental and health safety regulations, which could open the door to products that are currently banned in the EU (e.g. beef treated with hormones and bee-killing pesticides). Multinationals could even be allowed to ‘co-write’ future regulations on both sides of the Atlantic.
Sue continues “If it is implemented, TTIP could prevent councils from acting in the interests of local people, because every time they make a decision they will have to consider whether it is likely to trigger compensation claims from the multinationals. That is why TTIP is such a threat to local democracy and why we will be doing all we can to raise awareness. It is also the reason why Barcelona, Berlin, every municipality in Belgium and many others right across Europe and the United States are declaring themselves TTIP free zones. We hope that our Mayor will rise to the challenge. We want Bristol to join North Somerset by stand up for local decision-making by declaring Bristol a TTIP free zone and we would also urge the Mayor to demand that the full text of this massive trade agreement is made public at least a month before Members of the European Parliament are asked to vote on it.”