Around 2,000 people took part in Saturday’s protest in Brussels against the free exchange treaty negotiated between the European Union and the United States. This treaty and other similar agreements are a threat to social well-being, consumer security and democracy, according to protesters. “With the TTIP, the United States and the European Union want to create a huge free exchange zone, which will be above all democratic control”, says Sébastien Franco, one of the activists. “Multinational companies will be able to attack national legislation on environmental matters, health, food safety etc, if they feel they threaten their profits. These cases will not be handled by national courts and tribunals, but a private referee court, which up to now has always sided with American international companies”.
The protest was not only directed at the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), but also other free exchange agreements like the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) between Canada and the European Union.
Protesters think this kind of agreement will only benefit multinational companies. “The NAFTA agreement, for example, between the United States, Canada and Mexico, has proved catastrophic for the Mexican and Latin-American economy. Citizens and workers do not benefit from this type of agreement at all. On the contrary, these agreements only open the door to privatisation and the commercialisation of sectors like health care and education, which can only be harmful”.
The TTIP would also have a catastrophic effect on farming. “Farmer’s independence is threatened, we will all end up dependent on agro-industry, with all the consequences that implies for food safety and farmer’s income”.