Showing posts with label 'corporate rule'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 'corporate rule'. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Open Letter: Civil society demand Transparency on Transatlantic Trade Agreement

Commissioner Karel de Gucht
European Commissioner for Trade
European Commission
BE-1049 Brussels
May 19, 2014

Civil society call for full transparency about the EU-US trade negotiations
Dear Commissioner De Gucht,

The undersigned organisations are writing to express deep concerns about the lack of transparency around the ongoing trade talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). We are calling on you to open the negotiation process to the public, by releasing the negotiating mandate, documents submitted by the EU, and negotiating texts.

The European Commission has repeatedly stated that trade and investment between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) are already highly integrated, and that the main focus of TTIP will be to achieve regulatory convergence by removing so-called non-tariff barriers to trade. This means that the outcome has much less to do with traditional trade issues such as tariffs, than with the regulations and standards that apply in the EU and the US and that affect every single aspect of citizens’ daily lives – from the quality of the food we eat to the safety of chemicals we use, the energy we consume, or the impact of financial services on each of us.

Civil society groups in the EU and in the US have voiced concerns that this might lower standards and remove safeguards across the board. They have requested greater transparency about the negotiations to address these concerns. The setting up of a stakeholder advisory group for the negotiations by the EU – although an improvement compared to previous negotiations – is far from sufficient to make the process fully transparent. Members of the group will have limited access to the negotiating texts under strict confidentiality rules, and these will remain out of reach for the rest of interested civil society groups and citizens.

The European Commission has argued that secrecy in this process is inevitable because this is a matter of international relations. If these negotiations are intended to affect domestic regulations, standards and safeguards on each side, then citizens have the right to know what is being put on the table, and how this is being negotiated. The standard legislative process in the EU allows for public scrutiny of each step of policy-making as well as full involvement of the European Parliament.

We would urge that those negotiations should comply with the same level of openness. The process should also allow for public accountability of the European Commission for the negotiating positions that it takes. Given that many of the issues under negotiation relate to the environment, this would also reflect the EU’s obligations under Article 3(7) of the Aarhus Convention to promote access to information, public participation and access to justice in international environmental decision-making processes

Furthermore there are several examples of international negotiation processes, which provide a greater degree of openness to civil society than the negotiations on TTIP do, and whereby negotiating documents are disclosed.
Examples include:

- The World Trade Organisation (WTO): Even the WTO, which is regularly the subject of criticisms by civil society and member states, makes submissions made by member states in the negotiations, as well as offers, and reports by committee chairs available on its website2.

- The United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): The negotiating texts and submissions from the parties are circulated before the negotiations start. Observers, including external stakeholders, attend the sessions, and can provide submissions on request by the parties

- The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO): Draft negotiating documents are being released all along the process. Meetings are open to the public, and webcasted

- The Aarhus Convention: Meetings of the governing body and its subsidiary bodies are as a rule public. Accredited observers can participate in meetings of parties and in drafting groups working in collaboration with parties to develop text during the negotiations. They have the same speaking rights as parties

With this letter, we would like to restate our call for openness and public accountability of the TTIP negotiations. Without full transparency, there can be no meaningful engagement of civil society representatives in the process.

Basic transparency requirements include making the following available for the public at the earliest possible stage and at regular intervals:
- The text of the EU’s negotiating mandate;
- The initial position papers tabled by the EU;
- Any further papers submitted by the EU in the course of the negotiations that detail or explain the position of the EU on the topic, and that are being used in the course of the negotiations with the other party;
- The draft versions and final versions of individual chapters as well as the whole agreement at all steps of preparation and evolution (and at least before closing the negotiations and initialling so that parliaments and the public can still assess the outcome and make comments and recommendations).

If the European Commission is serious about openness and engagement of the public, it should also proactively make the following available:
- All written communications between the European Commission and other European institutional bodies (European Parliament and Member States) on this issue;

5 Aarhus Convention Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums, Innovations in Public Participation in International Forums – Advanced Draft, 23 February 2011, (“Innovations draft”), available at in public participation in international forums - draft for consideration by PPIF Task Force v.1 .do

All agendas and minutes of meetings between the European Commission and the European Parliament and Member States on this issue;
- All written communications between the European Commission and third parties –including industry and lobby organisations – on this issue;
- All agendas and minutes of meetings between the European Commission and third parties – including industry and lobby organisations – on this issue.

Yours sincerely,
Magda Stoczkiewicz
Director, Friends of the Earth Europe
Contact: Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe
[email protected] ; +32-494-380-959

On behalf of:
Signatories: Co-initiators
AccessInfo Europe
ArbeiterKammer Europa (AK Europa)
Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU)
ATTAC European Network
Campagna Stop TTIP Italia
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)
European Digital Rights Initiative (EDRI)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Finance Watch
Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE)
Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Seattle to Brussels
SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations)
Transnational Institute (TNI)
Transparency International EU (TI-EU)
Transatlantic Consumers Dialogue
Transport and Environment (T&E)

Network (AEFJN)
Afrika Kontakt
Alternative Informatics Turkey
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
Article 19
Asamblea Las Rozas
Asociación Qué hacen
Attac Austria
Attac Germany
Attac Nuernberg
Attac Paderborn
ATTAC Portugal
Berlin Water Council
Berlin Water Table
BI Fracking freies Hessen
BI lebenswertes Korbach e.V.
Both ENDS’
BUND Naturschutz in Bayern e.V.
Buy Responsibly Foundation
CADTM - Committee for Abolition of the Third World Debt
Campaign for Real Farming
Central America Women's Network
Central America Women's Network (CAWN)
Centre for Sustainable Development
Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt: Polska
Change Partnership
Chaos Computer Club
Climate Alliance
Civil Euro Perspective
Collectif Roosevelt
Commons Network
Compassion in World Farming
Danish Ecological Council
Danish Society for a Living Sea
Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) - German League for Nature and Environment
Diritto Di Sapere
Dutch Elasmobranch Society (NEV)
Earth Open Source
Earth Watch Media
Ecological Movement of Patras
Ecologistas en Acción
Ekumenicka akademie Praha
ELA – Basque Workers Solidarity
Engineering Without Borders Spain
Environmental Pillar
Esquerra Unida País Valencià
European Academy for Environmental Medicine EUROPAEM
European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
European Coordination Via Campesina
European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU)
European Transport Workers' Federation
Fair Trade Advocacy Office
Fair–Fish International association
Fís Nua
Food & Water Europe
Forum Informationsfreiheit (FOI)
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)
Foundation for environment and agriculture
Foundation of the "Fair Trade Coalition" (Poland)
Fracking Free Ireland
Fresh Eyes - People to People Travel cic
Friends of the Earth Czech Republic
Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland
Friends of the Earth Ireland
Friends of the Earth Malta
Gaia Foundation
Generations Futures
German NGO Forum on Environment and Development
Gewerkschaftlicher Linksblock
GLOBAL 2000-Friends of the Earth Austria
Global Responsibility Platform
Global Vision Foundation
GM-free Ireland Network
GMWatch UK
Green Budget Europe
Green Zone Foundation (Fundacja Strefa Zieleni)
Greenpeace Saar
Grupo Portugal Parceria Transatlântica de Comércio e Investimento
Hallintovahdit ry, Finland (Administration Watch, NGO)
Hausfeld & Co LLP
Health Action International Europe
Heaven or sHell
Hegoa Instituto de Estudios sobre el Desarrollo y la Cooperación Internacional
HuertAula Comunitaria de Agroecología Cantarranas de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid
IG Übersetzerinnen Übersetzer
Iniciativa por la Soberanía Alimentaria de Madrid
Initiative bessere Zukunft
Initiative für Netzfreiheit
Institut Veblen
Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology, infoe e.V.
Institute of Global Responsibility (IGO)
Irish Doctors Environmental Association
Iuridicum Remedium, Czech Republic
Jordens Vänner
Kalasantiner Kongregation
Katholische Jungschar Österreichs
KBW - Katholishches Bildungswerk Wien
KIFF – Keep Ireland Fracking Free
Kritische Oekologie / ifak e.V.
Les Amis de la Terre France
Lithuanian national consumer federation
Local Urban Development European Network(LUDEN)
Locale Globale
MIM Moral in Motion
Modern Poland Foundation
MyGR Technology Ltd
Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU)
Network Social Responsibility (NeSoVe)
NOAH - FOE Denmark
Nordic Financial Unions
Nuclear-Free Future Award
ÖBV-Via Campesina.Austria
ÖGB Europabüro
OroVerde - Tropical Forest Foundation
Partido Humanista de Sevilla
Permaculture Association (Britain)
Pesticide Action Network Germany (PAN Germany)
Platform Aarde Boer Consument
Polish Fair Trade Association
Powershift Belgium
PresidioEuropa No TAV
Pro Ethical Trade Finland
Pro Natura
Quaker Council for European Affairs
Red Huertos Urbanos Comunitarios de Madrid-ReHd Mad!
Request Initiative
Research & Degrowth
RETS – (Spanish Collective, human rights)
Save Rosia Montana Madrid
Sciaena - Marine Sciences and Cooperation
Seas At Risk
Send a Cow
Slow Food
Slow Food Germany
Soil Association
SOL - People for Solidarity, Ecology and Lifestyle
Solidarity Sweden Latin America/ Solidaridad Suecia America Latina
Stichting Schaaliegasvrij Nederland
StopTTIP uk
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
The Open Knowledge Foundation
Trade Justice Movement
TransFair e.V./Fairtrade Deutschland
Treffpunkt mensch & arbeit Braunau
Tschecho-Slovakisch-Österreichisches Kontaktforum
Umweltinstitut München e.V.
Unión Sindical Obrera (USO)
VIBE!AT – Austrian Association for Internet Users
VIDC Vienna Institute
VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment
VSF – Justicia Alimentaria Global
War on Want
Wasser in Bürgerhand
WEED - World Economy, Ecology & Development
West Country Brokers
WIDE – Network for Women´s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development
Working group Food Justice
World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)
WWF European Policy Office
Za Zemiata, FoE Bulgaria

Signatories: US
Activate USA
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Bay Area Light Brigade
Center for Food Safety
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Center for Rights
Citizens Trade Campaign
Consumer Federation of America
Earth in Brackets
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Fight for the Future
Food & Water Watch
Friends of the Earth-US
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Sunlight Foundation
Signatories: Other Regions
Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance
Centre for Law and Democracy
Common Frontiers
IFMSA - Canada / Canadian Federation of Medical Students
Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association (IJRDA)
Mauritius Trade Union Congress
Migration and Sustainable Development Alliance
PAPDA - Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

Signatories: International
ActionAid International
Association for Progressive Communications
Global Marshall Plan Initiative
Humane Society International
Oxfam International

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

UK Politics: Public Servants, Lies and the Future is Corporate?

We understand that humans will potentially behave badly when they have power or are faced with being able to make a lot of money. So with this in mind, we as a society have demanded access to information that allows the public and the press to monitor our so-called public servants. The Freedom of Information Act as George Monbiot points out in his article in the Guardian today, is of no use when it comes to the corporations, who are holding the taxpayer to ransom, and the consumer in contempt.

As it stands Corporations hide behind ‘corporate confidentiality’, aided by a willing set of politicians who are happy to defend the deals they have created on behalf of their paymasters. This behaviour and protection should play no part in a transparent society, but then again, our MPs and Lords are not only representing the needs of the corporations over the public, they are the corporations. They sit on the boards, they are the directors, advisors and seats in government, they make the rules for themselves, and they then vote on these rules despite the conflicts of interest.

Our politics is broken, 60% of our ecosystems are degraded, deregulation and greed is taking us to the brink, surveillance is everywhere, police monitor protesters who are legitimately using their right to protest, feeding information to the corporations who are being targeted; and create blacklists preventing politically involved people from getting jobs. We have seen how corrupt they are, taking payments from Murdoch’s hacks, and occasionally getting away with murder. All this happening without a privatised force, what will they be like once they are owned by a corporation? This frightening handing over of our services to corporations is increasingly in every area of our lives, our schools, energy, health, roads, water, housing, government, and it appears there is no limit to their greed.

What have the corporations actually given us? Name a public utility privatisation that has benefited the taxpayer and the consumer? The price of fuel is going through the roof, house prices are astronomical, trains are the most expensive in Europe, and so it goes on. In this regard I present a great quote by Arian Hamilton, formerly of the Institute of Economic affairs when writing in the Observer on January 2nd 1994 on the privatisation of British Gas.

‘Whatever else privatisation has done, it has done little for the consumer, at least in the case of the electricity and resource industries. The City has done well out of the sales of shares. The users have been bribed with the offer of cut-price shares. The management has been bought off with huge pay rises and substantial share options. (The present chairman of British Gas earns as much in a year as his predecessor did in his entire career of building up the industry)…Privatisation of British Gas has been a scandal. As a nationalised industry, it had converted the entire country to natural gas and revolutionized the energy scene. As a privatised company, it has done little more than sit back and reward itself and its advisers from the benefits of former investments and its dominant position.’

Society is falling into a deep dark hole and it will take a huge effort to reverse this malignant politics, spearheaded by corrupt, bigoted minds such as Francis Maude. What on Earth is someone like Maude, who wishes to eradicate the state provision of public services, doing in public office? Francis Maude like so many of our politicians are happy to take a wage paid for by us, reap the benefits of a good pension, and then do their utmost to destroy everything that has been built over the years. The idea that he is a public servant is laughable, and he should be treated as such by both us and the media.
One look through the MP and Lords register of interests highlights the sheer volume of corporate dominance in our politics. The staggering number of 142 Lords with financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare is evidence enough of who our parliamentarians represent. Take Margot James, who is seen on a video at a pharmaceutical conference saying: I keep saying ‘we’, but I’m not really part of the industry anymore, but I still feel it.’ This would explain why she was so keen to sit on the Health and Social Care bill committee in order to: ‘play a part in that debate and go on the committee to really iron out the details...’

How are we meant to trust them, when we watch Peter Cruddas offering access to the Prime Minister for £250,000 and he is allowed to resign rather than be placed under arrest, and investigated. It was remarkable that the Conservatives wheeled out Francis Maude to say the revelations were nothing more than: "embarrassing and wrong, and not true…That's not the way we do business and raise money, and we're very clear about that."

Why should the press accept anything he says as anything but a lie, fuelled by self-interests of his connections outside of parliament. Francis Maude who was a director a PR firm called Huntsworth, who are run by a Conservative Lord, called Lord Chadlington, who has donated money to Cameron as has his company. Why don’t the media with access to these interests challenge Maude’s authenticity when he speaks on such matters?

The list is endless. Cameron making Lord Popat a Peer after he donated money to the Conservative party,
Mark Simmonds, paid £50,000 a year to work just 10 hours a month as “strategic adviser” to Circle Health, George Osbourne who received donation through Conservative Campaign Headquarters to run his office from Julian Schild. Julian Schild’s family made £184million in 2006 by selling hospital bed-makers Huntleigh Technology. Andrew Lansley who accepted money from Care UK chairman John Nash to run his office.

They behave this way, because they are allowed to get away with it. The BBC utterly failed to challenge Andrew Lansley on his private healthcare links throughout the course of the Health and Social Care bill. In fact, aside from an article in 2008 highlighting the links between cabinet ministers and their private donations, their challenging of the Health Secretary was notable in its absence.

However the media can only accept some of the blame, we the public have not taken to the streets in the numbers required, the Unions have not called a strike to protect the NHS, and when Andrew Lansley was found to have cheated his expenses by selling his home after renovating it on taxpayers money, he was voted back in.

The latest vote however has clearly stated this coalition is not wanted, but what damage will they do before they are ousted. Will Labour, the likely beneficiaries, shed the skin of New Labour and turn away from a free market capitalist system that has caused so much damage to both our society and our environment? France has chosen socialism in times of austerity, do we have that option or is our Labour party still the same party that lied to us about the Iraq war, and continued the expansion of privatisation unabated?