Position of the „Solidary Bulgaria“ Association on preparations for signing of the Transatlantic partnership for trade and investment
In semisecrecy, behind the backs of Europeans and Americans, preparations are being made to impose a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the U.S., which affects us all. We learned about it’s spirit and only parts of it’s contents from trustworthy publications in the press, as well as protocol statements of President Rosen Plevneliev and Vice-Premier Daniela Bobeva, that Bulgaria supports TTIP.
The unwillingness of the negotiators on both sides of the Atlantic to make their plans public is confirmed by the fact that TTIP involving hundreds of billions of euro and having an undoubted effect on jobs is not commented extensively in Europe and in the U.S. press. Serious analyzes that raise questions not only about the benefits, but also the risks of such an agreement, can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
What do we know so far?
- In preparation of TTIP, access to full documentation is restricted only to representatives of international corporations (only the U.S. delegation consists of over 600 corporate lawyers and lobbyists for individual companies). Meetings are being made with selected NGOs – but only behind closed doors, with the dissenters not being allowed to speak.
- The planned TTIP usurps sovereignty, both in individual countries and the EU, placing itself above the provisions of both National and European law. Arrangements are being made to create a special tribunal for arbitration of disputes between investors and states. They will consist of corporate lawyers, not answerable to any democratic institution and thus outside public control, who can easily evolve from judges to advocates for their mighty clients. Their decisions will be binding upon the legitimately elected authorities, without any right of appeal.
- Among the objectives of TTIP we see not only the elimination of tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic (with losses to national budgets and the EU budget), but also granting of exclusive privileges to transnational companies. For example, the tobacco concern „Philip Morris“ is suing Australia for laws restricting smoking. It is easy to imagine the enthusiasm with which American corporations will fight for similar „rights“ in Europe, opposing new undesired regulations. The same can be expected of European megacompanies in the U.S.
- It is reasonable to fear that TTIP will lower the guarantees for the origin and quality of food, will circumvent the EU embargo on a number of products with unproven safety for human health, including those that contain GM ingredients, will overcome the rejection of the copyright agreement ACTA by the European governments, made under turbulent pressure from their citizens.
If TTIP means all of the above, the result of it’s implementation will be that democracy not only in our country will become even more formal and facade. The citizens will still be able to choose their local authorities, governments and the European Parliament, but less and less will depend on them as their powers will be limited by TTIP. Essentially, this would mean a quiet sale of European and American democracy, dressed in legal form.
Association „Solidary Bulgaria“ insists that the Bulgarian government comes out with a quick and clear answers to the following questions:
Does Bulgaria participate in preparing TTIP and if – yes, with which of it’s politicians and experts? What proposals have they made for the protection and safeguarding of national interests? If any, what parts of society have been consulted in preparing such proposals? Have any estimates and forecasts been made about how TTIP will affect the Bulgarian economy and the social sphere?
If suspicions that our government does not participate actively in the debates on TTIP are confirmed, this will be an exceptional manifestation of political irresponsibility. „Solidary Bulgaria“ urges institutions to begin an open dialogue with the public on the many issues raised by the transatlantic agreement. Before such debates have taken place we consider the positions of Mr. Rosen Plevneliev and Mrs. Daniela Bobeva to be only their own private opinions.
„Solidary Bulgaria“ addresses the broad strata of Bulgarian society urging them to insist and require information on the topic from all representatives and institutions. We address this especially to:
1. Environmental associations. Will we allow the bans on food of dubious quality to be circumvented and the moratorium on shale gas exploration and production to be lifted?
2. Consumer organizations. Will they inquire what standards of consumer protection will be enforced – the stricter European or the more lenient American? Or the negotiations will reach a compromise in the middle that would be a retreat from European standards?
3. Farmers. Would you agree with the elimination of EU subsidies for agricultural products?
4. Protesters against the oligarchy in Bulgaria and transparency in governance. Will you see in TTIP the contours of an even less controllable oligarchic power that is emerging on a supranational level?
5. Unions. Were you involved in the preparation of TTIP and how will you ensure the rights of people of labor, if the agreement comes into force?
6. Employers and industry associations. Are your members ready for a second wave of liberalization of imports like the one after the accession to the EU?
7. Media. Isn’t the fact that a fundamental agreement concerning the lives of millions of people is being prepared virtually in the dark, not a professional challenge to them to illuminate arrangements and inform European citizens?
8. Political parties. What do you know about TTIP, do you have any suggestions or objections, do you inform your own members about the consequences of applying the transatlantic agreement? This refers especially to the left-wing and particularly to the President of the Party of European Socialists Mr. Sergey Stanishev, as PES has significant influence in the current European Commission and without her consent such an agreement would be difficult to pass.
We strongly oppose any move to transfer the rights of the Bulgarian and EU citizens and their democratically elected legitimate institutions to private uncontrollable entities, companies, corporations! We appeal to the whole community, and in particular to members of the Bulgarian parties to require the same from elected politicians. Insisting on receiving all information on TTIP is a condition for making an informed choice in the upcoming vote for the European Parliament.
The answer to these questions and the attitude towards TTIP will be a criterion by which „Solidary Bulgaria“ evaluates parties and candidates in the approaching election!
Faced with the threat of an attack on democracy, more than ever we need the solidarity of ordinary people in Bulgaria, Europe and the two sides of the Atlantic!
The position was sent to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Council of Ministers, Bulgarian Members of the European Parliament, the European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, parties, trade unions, employers’ organizations, the media and NGOs. Mr. Thierry Repanten – Minister for European Affairs of the French Republic, was also acquainted with the raised issues.