Council challenged on international treaty threat

Council services in Edinburgh could be under threat from a secretive international treaty, according to Green councillors and campaigners, ahead of a council vote this Thursday.   

The so-called “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP) is currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA. The controversial deal has been widely criticised for being a threat to public services, environmental regulation and workers’ rights. This month an EU-wide petition against TTIP reached 2 million signatures.

A number of local councils across the country have already passed motions opposing TTIP. Their concerns include the fact that TTIP could prevent local councils from making procurement choices from local goods providers. In December 2014, Glasgow City Council unanimously passed a motion expressing its concerns about TTIP.

Now, this Thursday (25 June 2015), City of Edinburgh Council will also be asked to back a motion from Green councillors, asking the council to register its concern about the impact of TTIP on public services.

Thumb3 ChasBooth_hires3-611x1024The proposer, Green councillor Chas Booth said:

“There is something fundamentally wrong about a process which could allow multi-national corporations to ride roughshod over who runs local services, environmental standards and employment rights.  It could put at risk such successful projects as the Edinburgh Guarantee for young workers or the way that local contracts can provide community benefits.  That is why it is so important that the process is opened up for proper scrutiny.

Liz Murray from Global Justice Now Scotland added:

“TTIP, the EU-US trade deal, could be the biggest threat to democracy of our generation. This is true both at a national level and at the local level. In Edinburgh, for example, the Council’s ‘Edible Edinburgh’ partnership project to promote and support local, sustainable food could be seen as a barrier to free trade and threatened by TTIP rules. I hope Edinburgh council will stand up for our local democracy and join councils from across the UK which have already taken a stand against TTIP.”

 Notes

1. More information on the Global Justice Now / Unison TTIP campaign is at www.ttipfreezone.org.uk

2. The full TTIP motion for 25 June 2015 is below

By Councillor Booth – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

“This Council notes:

  1. That the EU and USA launched negotiations in July 2013 on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
  2. That negotiations are underway to determine which goods and services TTIP will apply to and if new rules can be agreed to protect investors, harmonise standards, reduce tariffs and open new markets throughout the EU and USA.
  3. That there has been no assessment carried out of the impact on local authorities.
  4. That there has been no scrutiny of the negotiating texts by local government and no consultation on the negotiating texts with local government representatives.
  5. That MPs and MSPs are also unable to scrutinise the negotiating documents.
  6. That the proposed Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism has been used by corporations to overturn democratic decisions by all levels of government at significant public cost.

This Council believes that:

  1. TTIP could have a detrimental impact on local services, employment, suppliers and decision-making.
  2. A thorough impact assessment of TTIP on local authorities must be undertaken before the negotiations can be concluded.
  3. Local decision-making must be protected from ISDS.
  4. The EU’s food, environmental and labour standards are generally higher than those in the US, and that TTIP negotiations must raise and not lower these standards across the EU and USA.
  5. Sourcing supplies and employment locally is important to strengthening local economies and meeting local needs. TTIP must not impact on local authorities’ ability to act in the best interests of its communities.

This Council therefore agrees:

  1. That the leader of the council will write to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government; the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution & Economy; Edinburgh MPs and MSPs and all Scottish MEPs raising the council’s serious concerns about the potential impact of TTIP on local authorities and the secrecy of the negotiating process.
  2. That the leader of the council will write to Cosla to raise our serious concerns about the potential impact of TTIP on local authorities and ask them to raise these with the UK Government and Scottish Government on our behalf.
  3. To call on the Scottish Government to carry out an impact assessment on the impact of TTIP on local authorities.
  4. To make contact with other local authorities across Europe which are opposed to TTIP and to work with them and with local campaigners to raise awareness about the problems of TTIP.
  5. To contact the local authorities of municipalities twinned with Edinburgh asking them to consider passing a similar motion on TTIP.”