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Why Local Authorities should oppose TTIP

Local Authorities should officially oppose TTIP – and many have

By Mike McLoughlin

TTIP will be damaging to local authorities and their democratic rights. It will force local authorities to open their procurement processes to US corporations. Such interference will have profound effects on how local authorities operate – from lowering of service standards to lowering of staff pay. Councils committed to paying a living wage i.e. a wage higher than that which Mr Osborne thinks can be called a living wage, will be prevented from so doing in their outside contracts. The procurement process will be undermining as it forces the councils to sign contracts which go against decisions made by the democratically elected representatives of the council.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism will undermine an important role of local councils, that of boosting the local economy. At the moment local councils can, for example, choose to favour local produce and local suppliers. However, with the threat of ISDS litigation (which could be very expensive a local authority cannot afford) they could be forced to forgo that “favouritism” as it will be considered an unfair advantage to local farmers, one that excludes producers from across the EU and US. Such a change will have a crushing effect on attempts to build resilient communities. The EU negotiators are particularly keen on this aspect of the deal as they wish to get rid of the “Buy American” local campaigns in the USA. Therefore any Government assurance that this will not happen cannot be relied upon.

The trade deal is negotiated in secret. And that fact alone is enough for aware people to be against it – the lack of any information on the negotiations, other than what has been leaked, means we cannot trust any official comments about it.

TTIP is a vehicle for corporations to strengthen their hold on the economies of both the EU and the US. This trade deal is, on principle, a threat to our democracies since the power is all in the hand of corporations and its overarching aim is to increase their profitability. It is not about increasing employment opportunities, nor is it about helping small to medium manufacturers to export their goods. It is about corporate profits. Health, workers’ rights, the environment, even the local economy – all are of no account as long as the big companies in the US and EU can turn an even greater profit. That is why this deal should be rejected by anyone who cares about our communities, anyone who wants to live in a thriving, healthy local community.

A total of 46 Local Authorities, 36 in England & Wales and 10 in Scotland, have considered or are considering becoming TTIP-FREE zones. Of these only 4, all conservative controlled, have rejected a motion in some way condemning TTIP or wishing to distance themselves from it. 37 have passed a critical motion calling on the Government to abandon or modify the present state of TTIP and 5 more are actively considering such a motion.

Councils of many different political make-ups are included; in England mostly Labour controlled, but 11 have no overall control. In 7 the second party after Labour is the Lib-Dems. There is one conservative controlled council that has passed a critical motion.

 

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