By SANTIAGO GONZÁLEZ VALLEJO-Economist USO First, look at the forms. It is not acceptable fordemocratic societies to be faced with an affair of this caliber, the signing of a free trade treaty between the United States and the European Union regarding investments by the major trading powers – investments encompassing global sales, customs, and, above all, changes in regulatory standards that will decisively influence the field of production and provision of goods and services. This will affect trade qualities, rules regarding issuance of pollution, investment, property rights, legislative competency of states and so forth, having neither scrutiny nor the most extensive possiblepublic participation. This Treaty, by its size and its results, will, without a doubt cause alignments of productive rules and investments worldwide. Negotiators, who aren’t purely technocratic, are surrounded by more than 600 lobbyists for different employers and multinational corporations. Documents and negotiations are secret and opaque to the common people. Trade unions and other groups in civil society were not allowed to participate. Even in the most extreme cases, the concerned information leaks were made exclusively to previously selected entrepreneurs. After negotiations, of course, there will time for possible discussions. By then, governments, corporations, and the companies’ bosses willhave made all the major decisions. And that is what we should not consent to. It is not enough that the European Union makes a survey after the fourth round of negotiations. Secondly, we should say no to this treaty because it restricts labor freedoms. We must avoid degradation oflabor and social standards, avoid social dumping, and, instead, support decent workplaces. Indeed, when we, trade unions, at meetings of the World Trade Organization express our reticence to use the price of merchandise as the only standard indicator,we already pointed out the dangers of encouraging a trade based on unequal working conditions and social norms because that leads to social dumping and erodeslabor conditions in those economies with better standards. Actually, the United States is a champion of breaches of labor standards. More than, for example, is Colombia. The US has not ratified 6 of the 8 main ILO conventions, including those concerning freedom of association (No. 87) and collective bargaining (No. 98). It has only ratified 14 of189 current conventions. On the contrary, all the countries of the European Union have ratified 8 fundamental conventions, and in the case of Spain, for example, hasratified the current 133 of 189 already enacted. In United States there are repeating examplesof restrictions on labor’s freedom of association and limited collective bargaining. We can see that there is also a lack of paid vacation, health care, and universal social security benefits. While European workers arein a time of crisis and shock, American workers are fighting with one arm tied behind their backs. Thirdly. Europe has established a few relevant commitments to reduction of CO2 emissions and other pollutants. This means an industrial adaptation and production norms and product quality with the initial costs that it implies. But to take action against climate change is a subject that affects everyone. If Arcelor-Mittal, General Motors, or other industries redirect European production then make products in another country with lax environmental standards, they will not be effectively bound into the fightagainst climate change, and that will be detrimental to the European economy. For all we know, it seems that one of the intentions of the Treaty is to override stringent standards and strengthen the absence of rules or make them more lax. Fourth, this calculated erosion of the most rigorous norms, be it theEuropeans—the most stringent, or Americans–the least – with respect to the environment, (which appears to be pretendedin these opaque negotiations of the Treaty) is repeated on sanitary issues, food, trading of public services, etc. Fifth, competition via commodities prices and the relentless pursuit of productive location and investment brings, if there are no further criteria, a fiscal race to the bottom. It may result in a steady drop in tax revenues, especially taxes on capital, a partial swing toward indirect taxes and a lower tax burden, where the lack of a tax on financial transactions and tax evasion favors forgetfulness in the political agenda of the negotiators regarding tax havens. The United States, where corporations such as Amazon, Google, etc. avoid taxes with the blessing of the government, has a tax burden of 24 % which is much less than countries in the EU, including Ireland, Holland, Luxemburg, Austria or Spain where there have already been attempts to make companies and millionaires exempts from paying taxes Sixth, the chapter dedicated toprotection of investments(or corporations) – their rules of arbitration,for all we know, have priority over the legislative power. About democracy, it’s a “democracy” exclusively for the multinationals. In summary, why we oppose: this Treaty favors the globalization of less labor and social rights. It favors big corporations and investors. It does not look for better harmonization of rights and environmental regulations. Can you possibly imagine a treaty of public discussions in service to the citizens, a treaty whose main priority would be social protections above and beyond the economic interests? Perhaps the only coherent aspect of this treatyis the opacity of negotiators and governments, who don’t want to reveal who they really serve. Translated by MARY C. GONZÁLEZ  



  1. Seguir la lógica del capital y su filosofía mercantilista, donde un mercado (pretendidamente libre y competencia perfecta) abastracto rige el mundo y los destinos de las personas conlleva este tipo de normas.


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