Commentary by Luca TOMASELLO
Negotiation between the US and the EU with regards to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is causing major debate all over Europe. Recently we have seen anti-TTIP protests in Brussels, Berlin and Florence, claiming that the deal is a ‘threat for democracy’. In reality, protests are a key part of the democratic process, as no one is ever fully satisfied. This plurality of opinions and independent thinking is what makes us special. However, we should remember that protests are often more visible than agreements. Indeed one should realise that ‘only’ 3,284,289 European citizens have signed the ‘Stop-TTIP’ petition. They therefore only represent a tiny minority if you consider the fact that over 380 million EU citizens are eligible to vote.
I personally believe that TTIP provides us with a great opportunity, not only for us Europeans but also for the entire world. Driven by their negative attitude, protesters argue that TTIP is going to lower the standards of the European Economy, destroy the European market and reduce the number of jobs available for European people. For once I suggest that we should try to think positively: what if TTIP could be a good thing? The signing of TTIP could help us create the largest free trade and economic area in the world. It would allow many European businesses to expand their activities to the US market whilst also allowing American companies to expand into Europe and therefore contribute to the creation of new jobs in several countries, some of which could use this to boost in their economies. More supply and competition in European markets will benefit consumers by increasing the amount of products they can choose from and lowering prices.
Some will claim that the signing of TTIP is going to put Europe in the hands of multi-national corporations. However, they ignore the fact that most of the world’s multi-national corporations already have divisions on the European continent, all of which already have huge lobbying power. This being said, one must not ignore the fact that nobody is forced to buy their products. I do not go to McDonald’s because I do not like it and I have solar energy in my house because I prefer it to what oil corporations produce: nobody is forcing me to do one thing instead of another. That is how a free market works: if a product is loved by the consumers it will be sold; if it is not, it will be retired from the shelves of your supermarket.
It has been estimated that TTIP could create incomes of about 187 billion for the European area and around 120 in the US. Given that the US and EU account for about the 45% of the world’s GDP, TTIP would also benefit the rest of the world economy. An agreement between the US and the EU could, for example, unblock discussions in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and pave the way for new global economic partnerships.
Furthermore, instead of lowering standards, TTIP could actually help to raise them. Those criticising the US’ quality and environmental controls should not forget that although the EU is said to have harder controls and higher standards on environmental protection, the recent ‘Diesel Gate’ at Volkswagen (VW) was discovered by American controls.
I do not believe in conspiracy theories. Overall I believe that the signing of TTIP would positively contribute to Europe’s economy. It would provide us with an occasion to bring a long-standing transatlantic partnership to a completely new level whilst also allowing Europe to demonstrate to the world that it should still be considered as a major player in the global arena. For once, we have to think with a positive attitude about what Europe can do. The EU should not be afraid of taking responsibilities. If we want to recover from the striking economic crises that still hurts us, if we want to have more opportunities for our growth, if we want to be able to give people, of every race and country the opportunity to live in peace in Europe we need the TTIP to be approved.