The European Union is negotiating a number of free trade agreements that are highly controversial, both for the enhanced powers they would give to corporations, and the secrecy with which they have been negotiated. As a result, treaties such as the EU-US trade deal TTIP, and the Canada-EU trade deal CETA,
have provoked furious public debate in Europe. Corporate lobbies have had an influential role in shaping both CETA and TTIP: in Europe the Commission has worked hand in hand with big business to co-author these deals. It is no surprise, then, that these trade deals give excessive power to corporations. Particularly controversial are the way the trade treaties offer the right for corporations to sue governments over public interest laws. Less well known, however, is the way ‘regulatory cooperation’ in these trade deals means standards and regulations can, to a large extent, be set behind closed doors by big business and trade experts. Codified into these deals is the prioritisation of corporate profit above legitimate public interests such as health, climate justice, labour rights, and food safety.
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