The European Union is currently engaged in extensive negotiations about new trade agreements with Canada (CETA) and the United States (TTIP). The implementation of the treaties will have far-reaching consequences for democracy at local and regional levels as well as for SMBs and public services. This is why we must go all out to halt CETA and TTIP. Fryslân should become a CETA and TTIP-free zone.
The United States and the EU have been negotiating about the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) since 2013. The EU has been negotiating with Canada already since 2009, in this case about the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). One of the aims of the treaties is to drastically reduce import and export duties. This is also meant to create more jobs. As more details become available, it has become clear, however, that the privileged positions which CETA and TTIP bestow to multinationals and investors will take precedence over democratically adopted decisions.
This means, for instance, that oil and gas companies from Canada will be able to use the CETA to contest decisions by local councils or other government bodies that could be detrimental to their profits. Such a scenario could arise in relation to gas extraction on Terschelling or at Toppenhuzen. Investors and foreign companies will be able to bypass our own judiciary and by way of a special ‘tribunal' be given exclusive rights to challenge government decision. These are rights that go well beyond those of our own businesses that are among the SMBs in Fryslân and Europe! Under CETA and TTIP it can become quite difficult to bring utilities such as fresh water and public transport (back) under government control or keep them there. If the governments of countries have to settle claims for losses relating to contested democratic regional or local decisions, member states will want to limit the discretionary powers of the municipalities and regional authorities.
The arguments of economic growth and more jobs are being demolished by various experts. TTIP can present a threat to our agriculture and horticulture, which is why an organisation such as the LTO (Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture) is not a supporter of the plans currently under consideration. According to calculations made by the economist Capaldo from Tufts University in the United States Dutch residents will on average be €4800 worse off.
Fryslân was the first province in the Netherlands where the Provincial Council voted against CETA and TTIP by a large majority. As a member state the Netherlands would appear to support CETA and TTIP. In doing so the Dutch government shows very little regard for the interests of its own population and companies. Dutch Labour Minister Ploumen (PvdA) has failed to demand a degree of policy discretion for the Netherlands in important areas such as energy and public services. This is in contrast to other member states such as Germany who did just that.
Fortunately a much more critical attitude is evident in the European Parliament. It is shown, amongst others, by the European Parliamentary group EFA, to which the Frisian National Party is also allied. The EFA believes that the European Commission is not listening to the massive groundswell of public protest occurring. With both the Dutch as well as the ‘Brussels' governments sitting on their hands, the time is ripe for proclaiming Fryslân a TTIP and CETA-free zone!
FNP member of the Provincial Council