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Comment on the TTIP

I believe in and am hopeful about the European project, as well as projects that take place all over the world and which try to create a present and a future where we manage to create collective visions and implement concrete actions in response to the objectives of sustainable development. As regards the TTIP, I have noticed that the European Commission (EC) has worked to make “everything” available on the internet for citizens who are most interested, mainly activists. I wrote “everything” because even the EC mentions in a chapter on transparency that, for reasons of “trust” in its partners (negotiators), it is not making all the information under discussion available. The presentation and different analyses (including some independent ones) clearly identify the “benefits” of the TTIP, specifically for SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses). On the other hand, they respond to the “concerns”, saying that the whole process is transparent and participatory through public consultation, and that in the end it will be governments and the members of the European Parliament who will decide what, how and when to apply the TTIP.

As for me, I am critical of the European strategy for the Competitive Economy, an adjective which continues to make it difficult for national economies to stabilise and become healthy, with positive impacts for social and ecological systems. Taking the example of the European procedure for resolving the recent financial crises (at the EU and national level), as well as the way in which the United States acts in the world in its own interest, and to the detriment of humanity, I view the TTIP with a high degree of caution. Added to this, I believe that several European standards are much higher than those of the USA, and that the negotiations could lead to certain of these standards being lowered in the areas of food production, financial regulation and others. On the other hand, the possibility that a company could take a government to an arbitration tribunal owing to decisions that the government took for the good of its people or environment and which caused a specific company potential losses of profits in the future, could cost a government dear if the company won the case in question. After 97% of the Europeans who participated in the public consultation on the TTIP said that they were opposed to the treaty, the European Commissioner responsible for the issue said that she would try to reinforce the capacity of governments to implement measures freely, and remove this potential right of companies.

Finally, I would like to say that we will never be able to trust in these treaties until we start to build trust in the communities that are closest to us, living a life we are proud of and actively participating in politics to demand responsibility and action. These treaties will always be imperfect and fallible as long as the people who “represent” us spend a lot of time navel-gazing and eying up the position that they want to occupy in the future. And to end on a positive note, I appeal to all readers to “vote” every day for the world that we want, when we go shopping for our homes, when we relate to our family and friends, when we are travelling to work and so on. It’s this daily behaviour that will contribute to making our world a better place to live in.

About the author

Gil Pessanha Penha-Lopes
Is a 36 years old recent father that is dedicating his life to study Nature. Since 2011 he is researching climate change adaptation solutions to be implemented at the local level as well as other frameworks to sustain community resilience, such as Transition, Permaculture and Biomimicry. Since 2013 he is lecturer of the Doctoral Program on Climate Change and Sustainable Development Policies at Lisbon University.

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