Transatlantic Trade, "the norm-making power of the global capital market," and Sassen

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Europe

By now, many people probably have heard of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP; in French Le partenariat transatlantique de commerce et d'investissement) and its deregulation purpose. The TTIP is a proposed secret trade deal between the European Union and the United States. Our friends (accountant and functionary) told us something like this ― only two groups in Brussels work to block this deal, whereas more than 200 groups are hired to push for the agreement with a perspective of “new growth.” (Do not be fooled because of nice words such as “free trade” and “new growth.”) The former has the budget of 200 million Euros, while the latter get billions of Euros. They thus argue that the deal is not about a corporate lobbying, but a bribery to be precise. They are very concerned about the TTIP, but they also think that it would be very difficult to win European Commission approval because the trade decision should be agreed by 28 countries … and it takes a lot to bribe.

While reading Saskia Sassen’s book Territory • Authority • Rights (2006), I suspect that it may not be completely impossible for them to bribe, given existing systems to accommodate such a deal. Sassen writes:

"Increasingly, the claims of such non-national entities are legitimate vis-à-vis the national state, and their utility logics can alter existing national law. In this sense these entities have gained economic ‘citizenship’ rights. Admittedly, this is not a common framing. … I see this as a significant, though not much recognized, development in the history of claim making. How citizens should handle these new concentrations of power and ‘legitimacy’ that attach to global firms and markets is a key to the future of democracy. Detecting the extent to which the global is embedded and filtered through the national is one way of understanding whether therein lies a possibility for citizens to demand accountability of global economic actors through national institutional channels, rather than having to wait for a ‘global’ state (Sassen 2003a)" (Sassen, 2006, p. 308, Princeton Univ. Press).

Note, as Sassen suggests, secrecy helps to accelerate this kind of deal. I understand that this type of trade agreement may be only a little part of global economic challenges we have to tackle.

But, a necessary hope is ― if the systems are created by humans, they could be also dismantled by us. If we, citizens who live in the EU countries, do not want our democracy to be hijacked by global firms, we ought to demand the immediate publication of the contents of the secret deal which has been taking place between the EC and the USA. See below for related information.

Articles by George Monbiot

Wikileaks on Secret Trade in Services Agreement

My article on the TPP

UN "resolution to start a process for an international legally instrument on transnational corporations"

Global GMO Free Coalition

Fuera Monsanto! (Get out Monsanto!) by Perro Verde

Some interesting films

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