Today and tomorrow, high-level politicians from the European Commission and the Obama Administration are meeting again to enter another phase in the TTIP negotiations. As a group of eight European trade ministers announces today in the Financial Times: “The high-level meeting between the EU Commission and the US Trade Representative on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which begins today, marks the shift from broad discussions toward an intensive and concrete phase of negotiations.”
The USA and European Union are setting out to create a gigantic free trade area. And gigantic is also the rhetorics that EU officials use. Trying hard to apply the lessons from the failures with the ACTA legislation, the European Commission has “devised a strategy for lying to [its citizens]”.
The Guardian wrote in December: “A few days ago an internal document was leaked. This reveals that a ‘dedicated communications operation’ is being ‘co-ordinated across the commission’. It involves, to use the commission’s chilling phrase, the ‘management of stakeholders, social media and transparency’. Managing transparency should be adopted as its motto.
“The message is that the trade deal is about ‘delivering growth and jobs’ and will not ‘undermine regulation and existing levels of protection in areas like health, safety and the environment’. Just one problem: it’s not true.”
Reading the article in today’s Financial Times, you can see that both European Commission and national governments are fully deploying their rhetorics:
“It is our firm belief that the TTIP will be able to unlock the full trade and investment potential between the EU and the US. This will strengthen our competitiveness, create jobs and spur growth. Together we will work intensively to achieve success.”
More growth, more income for citizens, jobs miracle, incredible effects on the labour market… is the chorus of the anthem on TTIP. And impressive numbers are being circulated:
… 80% increase in trade with the USA…” and
… €120 billion growth…”
Alcohol harm dwarfs TTIP benefits
The fact is – according to the Commission’s own study – this amounts only to an additional growth of 0.5% over ten years. The annual additional growth of the TTIP is projected to be mere 0.05%. Watch Commissioner De Gucht having a hard time when he is actually confronted with this evidence (at 6.31min).
Also the lead researcher for the Commission’s study is unmistakable: He says that politicians are exaggerating and selling the numbers of the study he was in charge of.
The assistant of the Trade Commissioner that you can also see in the YouTube film is called Claes Bengtsson. I have met him in December and confronted him with the following number: €156 Billion.
Claes was surprised and baffled by this number, similar to his Commissioner in the film above, of alcohol harm in the EU. It’s staggering in the face of the figures that the political leaders are so promoting these days in terms of the TTIP benefits.
€156 Billion. Per year.
€156 Billion is what alcohol harm costs in the EU-27 every year. Over ten years this amounts to this number: €1,560,000,000,000 or One trillion, five hundred and sixty billion Euro.
Just to make this clear: Over ten years the TTIP is projected to add €120 billion in additional growth. This number is being promoted as “miracle”. Over ten years, at the current rate (and the EU is doing close to nothing to prevent and reduce alcohol harm) alcohol harm will have created costs of One trillion, five hundred and sixty billion Euro.
That number surely must be called: a catastrophe – for children and young people of Europe, for businesses (especially small- and medium sized ones), for the welfare system, for society, for families and communities…
Last spring I wrote a blog entry called “Government of the (alcohol) industry, by the industry, for the industry“, in which I comment on the European way of conducting free trade negotiations. Almost a year later the rhetorics of our elected leaders has been exposed as nothing short of propaganda, an active attempt of manipulation.
This trade deal cannot even cover the costs that alcohol harm burdens Europe with. The EU citizens deserve much better.