[Ip-health] FT: US and EU unions criticise transatlantic trade deal
thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jul 10 03:22:54 PDT 2014
July 10, 2014 12:31 am
US and EU unions criticise transatlantic trade deal
By Shawn Donnan in Brussels
The largest trade unions in the US and EU are calling for protections for
online privacy and the and the dropping of special protections for foreign
investors as part of a long series of demands to secure their backing for a
transatlantic trade pact.
The conditions set by the AFL-CIO, the US’s largest union, and the European
Trade Union Confederation are due to be unveiled on Thursday and amount to
a serious blow to efforts to sell the benefits of what would be the largest
bilateral trade deal ever struck.
Since their launch last year, negotiations to create a Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership, which are due to enter their sixth round next
week, have faced increasingly vocal criticism
particularly in Europe
Labour unions have until now largely withheld judgment with some US union
officials even arguing that an agreement with the EU may be the first trade
deal in decades that they could back. That, in the view of trade officials,
has made unions a key constituency to win over as they fight to obtain
But in their long list of demands the AFL-CIO and the ETUC make any backing
for the deal conditional on a significant departure from what is now being
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said the unions were determined
that any transatlantic trade deal be good for workers and protect key
things such as consumer privacy.
“Just as the transatlantic business community has come together to advocate
for its vision of the TTIP, so must the transatlantic labour community,” he
said in an emailed statement to the Financial Times. “If globalisation is
going to fulfill its potential beyond shoring up the power of Wall Street
and global finance, it must start with the TTIP.”
Any agreement, the unions argue, should enshrine the right to online
privacy, an issue that has become increasingly fraught in Europe ever since
last year’s revelations that US intelligence were snooping on European
citizens online. They also raise the prospect of a ban on free data flows
across borders “if national privacy laws cannot be enforced for data
located outside national borders”.
The unions also say they want to see plans dropped for an investor-state
dispute settlement, or ISDS, mechanism, which would allow foreign investors
to bring their disagreements with governments before independent panels.
“The TTIP should be negotiated in the public interest rather than the
interests of private investors,” they write.
In their “declaration of joint principles” the two unions also demand
greater transparency for negotiations and a guarantee that any deal will
not erode labour standards in either the EU or the US.
Both unions had decided not to “go all the way to say no” to TTIP but are
“serious about some red lines”, said Tom Jenkins, senior adviser on trade
police for the ETUC.
He said the criticism of TTIP marked a departure for ETUC, which has
normally backed trade agreements. The ETUC’s concerns had been driven by
the agreement’s focus on removing regulatory barriers to trade.
“On the whole we are pro trade,” Mr Jenkins said. “In terms of opening up
markets we are OK. It is when you start talking about changing the
regulatory system that we get concerned.”
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