Bouncing us into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is wrong

There is a clear resonance between the fears expressed by Greenpeace regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the fears expressed in the report on debt by the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI).

TTIP is a wide-ranging free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US.

It is claimed it will bring more than €87bn of economic gains to both sides of the Atlantic.

Lord knows, we need a major stimulus but the question is whether this is the right way to go.

Greenpeace has claimed the agreement would lower food safety and environmental standards.

The EU Commission said Greenpeace is flatly wrong.

The US Trade Representative office suggested the interpretation of the confidential documents seen by Greenpeace is misleading.

Greenpeace’s argument is that the proposed TTIP would hand too much power to big business.

Consumers and national governments would suffer. According to Greenpeace, the documents showed the US wanted to replace the EU’s “precautionary principle” that governs the entry of products in the EU.

The EU has long prevented products that could potentially be harmful from entering the market where there is no certainty on the potential health effects.

It is claimed, however, the US wanted to introduce less stringent controls. Others have suggested that any US company could take the EU to court if its products were blocked on certain grounds.

The EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU would not waiver on its principles. Unfortunately, we’ve heard this before.

In our collective experience, it would appear politicians would sell their proverbial grandmother to get out of a tight spot.

The deal with Turkey on free access to Europe for that country’s 75m citizens, in an effort to stymie the flow of refugees and migrants, is a case in point.

The debt experts at the DDCI look at the impact of another American creation, namely so-called vulture funds.

We’ve all seen vultures in movies, hanging around until the victim cannot move anymore. When it does move in the victim may be living but all ability to fight is gone from it.

The vulture fund picks up the asset for a song and then seeks to pick the bones bare and squeeze the last ounce of marrow from what’s left.

It does so without any regard for anyone or anything.

In its urgency to sell off Irish people’s assets, the Coalition effectively mandated Nama to welcome in the vulture funds.

In the middle of a housing shortage, we have the probability of people being thrown out of their homes so a vulture fund can reward its executives with bonuses that look like telephone numbers.

The people of Ireland have not been well served by previous governments or by Nama.

Foreclosure and eviction are common features of the housing markets in the US, a regime of non-recourse loans is pre-eminent in many American states.

That means if you cannot pay, you can hand back the keys and walk away.

In Ireland, we make it easy for the vulture funds and the banks which helped put us into debt. We make people liable for their home loan debt even to the grave.

The US may be a fantastic place to vacation. It may be a fantastic place for the young, ambitious and the upwardly mobile. It’s a wonderland for the wealthy. It is not so good for those who do not fit.

Its mores are not ours. Yet, the EU appears to want to make Europe a subsidiary of US Corporate America.

Yes, the problems with the euro need to be resolved. The European economy needs a fillip. But it also needs stability.

Bouncing into an ill- thought out trade deal is not in the interests of the citizens of Europe.

The Commission is already way too friendly with the major business corporations. No deal should be done on TTIP without the specific approval of the people of Europe.

Any deal that is done should be done in the interests of the people of Europe and on its terms and not on those of another nation.


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