North Londoners plan the fight against TTIP


by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg

DDAYesterday I went along to a meeting in Islington of activists opposed to the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). TTIP is a treaty being negotiated between the US and EU, which will not only remove barriers to trade, but which will also strictly limit the ability of governments to carry out any policy that is inimical to corporate interests. Under its terms, corporations in the US will enjoy greatly increased scope to sue European governments and visa-versa.

Mark Bergfeld led off – despite the widespread belief that he left Britain for Germany some time ago. The deal, he said, was not primarily motivated by trade. Nor was it a question of Europe rolling over at the behest of the United States. Rather this was about elites on both sides of the Atlantic trying to drive down labour costs, and to reduce the social rent that sustains welfare states.

The wider context to this was that Austerity clearly hadn’t borne fruit as a mechanism for restoring growth or competitiveness to the European economies. Nationalisations, meanwhile, would become almost impossible once TTIP was in place. More optimistically, though, he argued that we do have a chance of derailing the agreement. ACTA – the EU-US treaty to crack down on p2p filesharing – was, he said, amongst several economic treaties that have been derailed in recent years. Meanwhile, the fact that even Bavarian farmers were opposing TTIP was indicative of the kind of coalition that could be brought to bear on the matter.


Learning from each other

The meeting itself was unusual in terms of how far it actually fulfilled the proper functions of a meeting. Activists really took the opportunity unity to learn from each other about the nitty-gritty of the treaty, to find out what was going on here and abroad, and to plan further action – particularly in relation to the 11th October which will be an international anti-TTIP day of action. We all came out feeling enthused, despite the welcome absence of rousing speeches about how we’re going to fight and how we’re going to win (don’t get me wrong, these things have their place, but activists who can’t tell the difference between an open-air rally and a midweek organising meeting are worse than  jazz music). There were people from a pretty wide variety of backgrounds and campaigns in attendance.

There was some divergence of opinion with regard to the European dimension of this issue. The person sitting next to me felt it important that this issue doesn’t become a beacon for “anti-European” “UKIP-style” politics. Personally I take the opposite approach.

In terms of opposing TTIP, I believe that we can gain a lot by asking the European Commission “who are you to negotiate this on our behalf?”. After all nobody voted for the commissioners who are set to sanction this world-changing deal. It’s also clear, particularly after the Euro Elections, that anti-EU sentiment is widespread and growing. Right now it is the right who are predominantly harnessing it (although not exclusively – see Sinn Fein’s epic election gains). I believe that the campaign against TTIP could be an important part of a radical challenge to the current European order. Anyway that’s just my tuppence worth. Now let’s get to fighting TTIP.

3 Responses to North Londoners plan the fight against TTIP

  1. I was all for this post until the bit about jazz music…what do you have against jazz?!?!? :)

  2. Where to start, comrade. Honestly so much of it is so boring. Where it has lyrics they tend to be goddamn awful. Saxophones look silly. And the people who play it are all like “whoaa I can’t believe you put an a flat in there. Rad!” What’s more, Ronnie Scotts has been placed very prominently at the heart of London simply to annoy me. Or at least it seems that way. So in summary, yes to folk and worker’s rights. No to TTIP and Jazz music