Is a full course lunch, a new Commissioner and 2 million anti-TTIP citizens what you would call a “Fresh Start”?

It seems that not even Dan Mullaney, Chief US Negotiator for TTIP, can believe that Cecilia sees a "fresh start" in the negotiations! From right to left, Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade and Dan Mullaney, Chief US Negotiator for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). (EC Audiovisual Services, 08/12/2014)

It seems that not even Mr Dan Mullaney, Chief US Negotiator for TTIP, can believe that Cecilia sees a “fresh start” in the negotiations! From right to left, Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade and Dan Mullaney, Chief US Negotiator for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). (EC Audiovisual Services, 08/12/2014)

It was last Monday that Mrs Cecilia Malmstrom, the newly appointed EU Commissioner for Trade, paid a visit to Washington to meet “our American friends”, as she calls them. That is to say, “Mike“, Mr Michael Froman, US Trade Commissioner and his team. To her surprise “our American friends” provided her with a full course lunch rather than just a couple of sandwiches, like she was used to. Moreover, she described this as a “fresh start” in the TTIP negotiations. The reporters on site though questioned the “freshness” and so do we.

The Sting has been following very closely the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the trade pact between the US and the EU. After seven long rounds of negotiations in both sides of the Atlantic the top EU and US trade representatives have well tabled the major points of what is believed to become to biggest trade pact in the world. The crucial mistake though made in these 7 rounds is that the two parts were negotiating like business men and not politicians.

TTIP Vs. Cue Tip

Surprisingly enough for the other side of the Atlantic TTIP as a term means no more than a “cue tip”, as Mr Tim Bennett, CEO of the Transatlantic Business Council interestingly revealed to us in an exclusive interview he gave to Carlo Motta from the European Sting during European Business Summit 2014. Apparently the American citizen is not aware or engaged enough in this trade partnership with the Old Continent. On the other hand, other trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seem more interesting for them to follow.

The major issue or political mistake made in these 7 negotiation rounds is to ignore the fact that the EU citizen is by far more engaged in the topic and as a matter of fact a huge part of the public opinion is against this trade agreement with the US. During this year, which comes soon to an end, we noticed various organised riots against TTIP in Brussels and beyond, pointing out some major hot points of the TTIP debate, like GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Hence, going to negotiations without a sound understanding and plan about how to tackle this public resentment is like going to start the car without the key. It won’t work!

A not so “Fresh Start”

On Tuesday, right one day after this “fresh start”, accompanied by a full course lunch, that Mrs Malstrom made in Washington, Stop TTIP, a “self-organised European citizens initiative against TTIP and CETA”-CETA is the trade pact with Canada- , whose aim is to do what the name stands for, handed over at the European Commission a special birthday present for President Juncker. It was a powerful petition that has been signed by more than 1 million Europeans who want TTIP negotiations to be halted immediately.

In fact this is the second million ‘worthy’ petition to be sent to the Commission in 5 months time! On 15 July another petition by the same organisation and signed by another million Europeans was also sent to the Commission. Stop TTIP petitions allegedly apply to be a “European Citizens Initiative“. According to the European Commission “the European citizens’ initiative allows one million EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal”.

Let’s go back now to the last hot summer, when the Commission rejected the powerful 1 million petition by Stop TTIP, claiming that a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) may be formulated only positively, working towards the enactment of a legal act, not towards preventing an enactment. Indeed it is understood that is a big majority in Berlaymont is comprised of well skilled lawyers that can find many reasons not to make an ECI valid. Furthermore, Stop TTIP, has launched a formal complaint to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), stressing that the European Citizens’ Initiative (regulation 211/2011) provides citizens with the right “to participate by means of a European Citizens’ Initiative in the democratic life of the Union”. In addition, Stop TTIP says that “there is not a syllable which indicates that only constructive, i.e. positively formulated, ECIs are to be possible”… “The instrument of an ECI is intended to enable lively participation at EU level by citizens – it is available to the citizens as a motive force or as a brake.”

The huge political mistake

Whether Stop TTIP can be granted the official ‘stamp’ “European Citizens Initiative” (ECI) or not, this is neither for this article nor for the Sting to judge. The European Court of Justice now will decide on the matter. No matter what the court’s decision will be, however, neglecting these more than 2 million ‘worthy’ European citizen petitions or acting like they never happened is a terrible and unseen political mistake.

The EU needs to listen to these original outcries from its people and deal with them in a democratic way. No bureaucrat receiving fat, tax free salaries, and enjoying an upper estimate of some 50 working days annual leave, should be able to turn a blind eye to petitions of this size and importance. What is more, it is not relevant that a top EU trade negotiator states: “I need to try to understand the scepticism, the fears,” (Monday press conference on TTIP). As a Trade Commisisoner you don’t try to understand but you understand!

There’s no other way

All in all, given the general resentment of the pubic opinion, there is no sense any more in covering the negotiation terms. People are against it a priori. If this trade partnership is about to help boost our economies in Europe greatly and create many more jobs for Europeans, then the EU needs to convince its citizens and earn their trust. Let’s start with opening the complete negotiation file at the European Parliament. If indeed it is in our best interest to proceed, then our representatives in the EP will see it and approve it.

On TTIP there is no other way to proceed, at least at this side of the Atlantic, but with an open democratic dialogue.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Syrian crisis: EU mobilises an overall pledge of €6.9 billion for 2020 and beyond

How AI is shaping financial services

Brexit: UK business fear of a no-deal scenario preparing for the worst

Can you put a price on peace? This study says you can

Help African farmers cope with climate change threats, UN food agency urges

Europe Day: discover the European Union on 9 May 2021

These are the world’s most future-proof cities

CEOs say these 4 factors will shape business in 2020

We need natural solutions to fight ocean and climate risk

6 of the world’s 10 most polluted cities are in India

EU-UK future relations: crucial to ensure EU leverage and unity

Why our future relies on more inclusive and transparent innovation

Scientists say this ‘super plant’ could help soak up pollution on busy roads

5 surprising ways to reuse coffee grounds

Two peacekeepers killed in an attack against UN convoy in Mali

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of DSME by HHIH

These are India’s cleanest cities

Why decarbonising industry is a team sport

Feeding families remains complex task in war-torn Syria – UN relief agency

New ECB boss quizzed for the first time by Economic Affairs Committee

Coronavirus – here’s the public health advice on how to protect yourself

OECD presents analysis showing significant impact of proposed international tax reforms

This Central Asian lake is a stark reminder of the impact we have on the planet

European Semester Spring Package: Recommendations for a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic

State aid: Commission approves €2.5 billion Italian scheme to support self-employed and healthcare professionals in context of coronavirus outbreak

To Brexit or not to Brexit: British exceptionalism doesn’t allow any Obama telling Brits what to do

Monday’s Daily Brief: the cost of maternal healthcare, Sudan and Chad updates, sustainability in focus

How storytelling can be a force for social change

Becoming a father made me more motivated to end anti-Asian hate

Pharmaceuticals in the environment: Commission defines actions to address risks and challenges

Why COVID-19 poses a particular threat in the world’s slums

How to rebuild trust and integrity in South Africa

Staying home? Here are 5 exercise tips from the World Health Organization

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for smaller businesses to get financing through capital markets

Return of Kuwaiti property by Iraq, signals hope of ‘full normalization’ between nations: UN Chief

Forest wildfires could actually help combat climate change. Here’s how

EU Commission says falling labour remuneration leads to deflation and damages growth prospects

MWC2021 Launches New Initiative to Widen Access for Spanish Industry Professionals

Batteries included: how better storage can transform renewable energy

Sassoli: Migration agreement respects fundamental principles of Parliament’s proposal

Yemen: Escalation in fighting must stop ‘before it’s too late’, Griffiths tells Security Council

FROM THE FIELD: Sourcing clean water in Ghana

UNICEF calls on supply chain and transport industry to take COVID-19 vaccines to the world

MEPs back plans to promote water reuse for agricultural irrigation

The new assembly lines: Why AI needs low-skilled workers too

5 themes shaping the future of work

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

US migrant children policy reversal, still ‘fails’ thousands of detained youngsters: UN rights experts

Switzerland fast-tracks emergency aid for small businesses weathering COVID-19

Migrant children at US border have right to protection and ‘be with their families’: UNICEF chief

NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Cyprus’s €1.2 billion recovery and resilience plan

Eurozone: Avoiding a new Greek accident

The implications of Brexit on European business, youth entrepreneurship and junior enterprises.

Devastating natural disasters show the need for resilient, sustainable and inclusive infrastructure

Sex education in Schools conducted by medical students

Aid used for trade is helping developing countries diversify

Biodiversity: Commission progress report on EU action to protect pollinators highlights urgency of action

4 ways to become a ‘business baobab’ on the African economic landscape

UN highlights need to solve growing burden of forcibly displaced Africans

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: