- 17. 9. 2016
- Alliance "TTIP-STOPPEN"
On Saturday 17th September 2016 thousands of people in numerous places in Germany, Sweden and Austria demonstrated against CETA and TTIP, the controversial free trade agreements with Canada and the USA.
While only the greatest optimists among the supporters believe that the TTIP will come into effect (both Trump and Clinton, in the current American election campaign, have pronounced that the contract will not be signed, while for President Obama time is running out), the CETA appears to be ready for its planned signing at the end of October. The go-ahead was given at the small party conference of the SPD which, in the presence of the Canadian Trade Minister, gave the German Minister of the Economy the two-thirds majority necessary for an OK. As is the case with every other EU Member State, Austria also has to ratify this contract. Chancellor Christian Kern, in the course of the UN General Assembly on migration, again demanded amendments from Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau – it remains to be seen whether these will be made considering the short period of time. Above all in the areas of investment protection (the controversial arbitration court), employees’ rights and public services (safeguarding against privatisation efforts), Kern pinpointed deficiencies in the contract.
This coincides with the reservations of the demonstrators:
People should be the focus of considerations and not global economic interests.
More regional focus in economic actions and thoughts in order to avoid unnecessarily long transport routes and to strengthen local economies. The healthy production and processing of food has to be guaranteed.
Not easy to realise in practice at a time when the world is becoming increasingly integrated and large companies have exhaustive means at their disposal for lobbying purposes.
The agreement between the USA and several Pacific states, TTP, has already been signed but not yet ratified. Many in Europe fear that the ratification will result in the USA turning away from Europe and turning instead to the booming regions in Asia – in particular because America’s greatest economic rival, China, is there. Europe, as a demographically shrinking continent in comparison to the rest of the world, could not afford to ignore the trade opportunities that would arise from the merging of larger economic areas.
However, at what cost?
Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, does not miss an opportunity to stress that the free trade agreements have been amended on several occasions and die Giftzähne gezogen wurden. Until now she has not yet been able to convince critics with this statement. In this country critics are quick to point out that generally in Europe, the agreement is supported. It remains to be seen how successful Kern is with his demands for further amendments and whether he really is willing to bring about the downfall of CETA single-handedly.
If he did, he would fill a majority of Austrians and all demonstrators with hope.
Translation into English: Donna Stockenhuber