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FIT Europe Position on the project of Transatlantic Trade and Invesment Partnership (TTIP)

I. Introduction

TTIP is a partnership project aiming to make Europe and the USA into one single totally open market, free from all procedural or regulatory barriers, for flows of products, services and capital. This partnership, which the champions of total liberalism and market deregulation – the White House and the European Commission at the forefront – promise will have a beneficial effect on growth, employment and household incomes in both regions on either side of the Atlantic, is coming in for strong criticism in particular from the unions, civil society and a large slice of the academic and political world precisely as regards the effects it would have on civil society. The 10th round of negotiations will take place in Brussels from 13th to 17th July 2015, where the focus will be on the service sector. The EU will be presenting a text on its vision of sustainable trade and development/work/environment.

II. Objections

Opponents of the TTIP criticise it on several counts:

  • The Commission presents three supposedly independent studies that forecast negligible growth in employment and the GDP for Europe after 10 years. But all three of these studies are based on the same modelling approach (Computable General Equilibrium model), which does not take the effects of unemployment nor of financial flow into account. An independent study performed by the TUFT University (USA), which does take these factors into account, produces an overall result which is clearly negative on GDP (of the order of -0.40% over 10 years) and on employment (loss of 583 000 jobs) in Europe.

  • This deregulation would lead to a race to the bottom in terms of standards, to the detriment of the protection of the consumer, of the environment, to labour laws, to public education systems, etc.

  • The principle behind the partnership aims to do away with the “precautionary principle” which Europe holds so dear and transfer to the victims the burden of proving that a product is harmful. The supporters of the project assert that safeguards will be implemented especially for matters related to the environment, health, cultural exceptions, etc., but there appears to be nothing in the project to corroborate the existence of efficient safeguards.

  • The partnership neglects the principle of reciprocity, under which states and stakeholder groups in civil society would be able to complain to the arbitration body (investor-state dispute resolution – ISDR) about the threats that multinational companies represent to their legitimate interests, such as protecting cultural heritage (refer to UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001, in particular in linguistic matters)

  • The negotiations are surrounded by the utmost secrecy: it is forbidden to copy even extracts from the voluminous negotiation file (more than 15 000 pages). Yet the Commission is trying to reassure us by setting up the targets, in particular for protecting public services and by publishing reports on the negotiations couched in very general terms (

  • The principles of democratic control are not complied with in several respects:

    • Lack of transparency on the secret negotiations between civil servants and diplomats who have not been democratically elected, and the results of which would be imposed on all under pressure from the institutions.

    • Once the partnership has been approved by the national parliaments, the list of products and services concerned could be added to by a TTIP “Council” without the need for further parliamentary ratification. This Council comprises mainly representatives from industry and experts.

    • Disputes between states and multinational companies would be resolved by an arbitration body appointed by the TTIP Council, without any democratic validation and with no guarantee of neutrality. This court would be able to impose fines of several billions of euro on a state, with no possibility of appeal. It goes without saying that these fines would be paid to multinational companies by the taxpayers.

  • While it is true that the financial and commercial flow between Europe and the USA would be strengthened, it is just as clear that this would be to the detriment of intra-European trade, which would be reduced by the same amount. So this partnership would inevitably result in reducing European economic integration (a reduction of between 25 and 41% in intra-European exports in 2025 according to CEPR and CEPII), which is contrary to Europe’s objective.

  • Total deregulation in the flow of capital would significantly increase the probability of a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

  • Even if the TTIP were to result in an increase in GDP on both sides of the Atlantic, this would happen through a big increase in financial income to the detriment of income from employment, which would in any case penalise employment and increase poverty. Similar “free-trade partnerships”, for example between Mexico and the USA, have in fact demonstrated that such treaties always disadvantage the weaker partner.

III. Threats to Translators and Interpreters in Europe

It is to be feared that the TTIP will still further reduce the income of households in Europe, and as a result, domestic consumption within the European Union. This would worsen the economic crisis, which would have repercussions on the volume of work for translators and interpreters.

While there is no certainty that the TTIP will provide any advantage to SMEs, it is obvious that there will be none at all for the liberal and intellectual professionals.

What is more, deregulation is likely to be prejudicial to sworn translators and interpreters, who – just like the registers they are listed in – will be useless with the advent of agencies who would rush to take over this market by slashing prices to the detriment of the providers and their qualifications. Profit would come first, before the quality of public service and the rights of citizens, as shown in the case of the UK when the whole volume of judicial translations was granted by public procurement to a translation business.

Additionally, making it easier for translation and interpreting companies to set up, whether working on site or remotely, would further increase the already-intolerable pressure on prices.

IV. Conclusion

For FIT-Europe a partnership of this sort would only be acceptable:

  • If the TTIP produces a significant increase in the proportion of income from employment in the GDP in relation to financial income, rather than the other way around.

  • If the TTIP contributes to improving the actual average household income by encouraging stable employment rather than precariat.

  • As long as Europe retains its cultural identity and its justice system as well as its social security, health and environment protection systems.

  • If the TTIP is open to democratic control from conception to implementation, and in particular a neutral supervisory body is set up and constantly monitors the economic effects on employment, the standard of living and the environment.

  • As long as the TTIP defines the products and services open to free-trade within the framework of a positive list.

  • If the TTIP includes an efficient system of rules and controls on financial flows, in particular by setting up a firewall between financial flows intended for investment in the real economy and speculative flow.

  • If the TTIP enables states and stakeholder groups to obtain compensation for abuse by the multinational players.

  • If democratic control rules are instituted at all levels and in particular:

    • total transparency in the negotiations
    • consultation with the states and civil society on the product and service fields to be exempted from the partnership
    • the complainant shall bear the burden of proof
    • democratic appointment to the TTIP Council and to the arbitration court
    • possibility of appeal
    • ratification of any revisions.