It's actually not really different from how most laws are written, especially those proposed by the government. While those are in the drafting phase MPs usally don't have access at all.
By the time this is in its final form, many countries (like the US) would have basically already voted for approval, meaning a public debate will be too late and all but meaningless.
This is not how negotiations work. You don't make preliminary talks public. Many of the things in those talks are outrageous and no one believes they will be in the final draft. It's how you negotiate. You ask for X, then the opposing side tells you no, BUT if you manage to do Y, then we can do a scaled back version of X. You tell them no, BUT if they do X and Z, you will make Y happen. All sides make concessions and sh... stuff gets done.
Making the above process public will tie the negotiators hands.
You mean it's not how oligarchs want it to work. Proponents of unpopular policy proposals want to govern people, but they don't want to have to explain themselves to the people they propose to govern.
>You don't make preliminary talks public.
Just because it doesn't always happen, does not mean that it never happens, shouldn't happen, or can't happen.
>Making the above process public will tie the negotiators hands.
Which is the point of democratic processes. It is exactly what people want. I'm not sure what they're worried about anyway, in the US the proletariat has been convinced to go along with all manner of political and economic policy that goes against their best interests; they beg for more of it.
* The United States Congress does not really get line-item veto on giant international trade agreements that affect dozens of countries, all of whom also must ratify the treaty.
* Trade promotion authority is simply the authorization for the administration to negotiate the treaty.
* By the time TPP is ratified by Congress at the end of 2016, it will have been public for over a year, and we'll have change-bars for the "legal scrub" stuff Techdirt is so worried about.
My real objection to US concern over TPP is that TPP has minimal impact on US domestic law. If you're a New Zealander, or, worse, Vietnamese, I totally understand how the TPP is problematic. The idea that a treaty that mostly serves to normalize global trade rules around the ones already in place in the US has been "rammed through in the USA" seems pretty arrogant to me.
Its not a treaty. If it were a treaty, it would have to be ratified by a 2/3 vote in the Senate, and could, indeed, not be modified on a line-item level. What is put before Congress is a regular US law, not a treaty ratification, that needs a mere majority, but in both houses, and which just happens to be intended to implement an non-treaty agreement negotiated by the executive.
The US Congress does, really, have line-item authority over regular US laws.
> Trade promotion authority is simply the authorization for the administration to negotiate the treaty.
No, its not. Its a (without binding effect, since Constitutionally the Congress cannot bind its own future actions) commitment as to how Congress will apply its powers after such negotiations. The power to negotiate with foreign powers and submit whatever it wants to the Congress after such negotiations is inherent executive power that requires no authorization.
Except that, in this case, only if they first vote to change their own rules, which were set when TPA was passed. So they dig themselves a small hole, which they can jump out of without help. Nothing unconstitutional about that. Congressional-Executive Agreements are a pragmatic solution to a coordination problem, using constitutionally provided tools to solve a problem whose complexity was not envisaged by the authors.
Fun fact: the U.S. avoids entering into treaties which override our laws, despite explicit constitutional language which says that they would. Best to change laws by statute, so everyone is clear, and everyone doesn't have to do a bunch of supremacy analysis. We'll even pass implementing legislation for treaties that in other nations are self-executing.
I don't think legality was the issue.
The issue is that there are dozens of countries that need to vote on the same exact text for it to have an effect.
Surely the US Congress could modify it but then the other players will at best ratify a different version and at worse change items here and there themselves.
In both cases, what you get is not an international trade agrement.
You may as well vote "no" or not even try to negotiate a deal.
Right, which is the exact point of this whole tiresome conversation about negotiations.
People who don't want TPP (or TTIP) to become law have figured out that it's easier to attack the process than to attack the substance, and the outcome would be the same.
 Not because the substance is unassailable, but because talking about it requires informing the listener, whereas invoking fears of secret cabals does not.
That is a mischaracterization. There is plenty in the TPP that sucks if you are a citizen of the US as opposed to a corporation.
Many people in the US are trying desperately to stop the TPP. We simply don't have a lot of voice.
And seen another way. If any majority of people inside a democracy does not want to have a feature it is the politicians job to listen to the people and do their bidding. Politicians are there to server the people not to rule them.
The people negotiating on my behalf are so far removed from my actual vote, that I could not possible call this democratic.
So no, when the final draft is released, we will have the european parliament get some short amount of time (easily too short to really grasp implications), no real debate, but a fast vote. Then this will have to be implemented into national laws (without another parliamentarian debate on a national basis).
Let's see, what you have to say then in regards to this process.
What is left to say?
I now see how you do "discourse" and can understand why you do not fear TTIP "discourse". As yours and the so called "discourse" are equally non existent and on the same level.
Please. I beg you to refrain from an answer, as I write this just for the afterworld. I do not try to feed you, the troll.
And just FYI, this style of "discourse" is exactly the reason why TTIP negotiations should not be made public. A politician can rip apart through all the logic here and the public will eat it up.
In the UK, for example, our national laws go through several stages of development in Parliament. Over the course of many months or years there will often be thousands of comments contributed by MPs, Lords, civil servants, independent subject matter experts, special interest groups, and the general public.
There are no draconian restrictions on seeing or discussing the work in progress of the kind we're talking about here. No-one is wearing tin foil hats. No-one is spending their entire working lifetime fending off crazy theories from everyone with half a clue.
And yet, as you say, stuff still gets done.
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm a little surprised that the out campaign hasn't made more of TTIP itself as a textbook example of the democratic deficit they complain about. Various people in reply have pointed out that the current UK administration would seem likely to support a similar trade deal with the US directly anyway and in practice it may be other EU states putting the brakes on parts of TTIP, so possibly raising the issue would backfire.
Perhaps to some extent (and, being a citizen of neither the UK nor any other EU state, I really don't have much invested in the Brexit debate), though the situation with the EU -- which has directly accountable organs and many of the same kinds of accountability and transparency provisions that are common in national government -- seems different (in general, more like the US federal/state situation, where overlapping powers mean that there are multiple levels at which an interested party can attempt to achieve the same kind of goal and the can, to an extent, forum-shop for the most friendly authority, but still be subject to the same general type of exposure through the legislative process, even if the details are different at different levels.)
There's probably also an argument that without the EU, more of Britain's affairs would be subject to topic-specific, specially-negotiated-through-opaque-process, deals.
MEPs do have some real power, particularly since the Lisbon Treaty, but in practice that power is often like a veto: they can decline to approve some pretty big deals, but unless there is a credible risk of throwing something out in its entirety, MEPs don't necessarily get much input into the details.
At the moment, it looks like TTIP may be one of those cases. MEPs, and very recently some of the national equivalents, have only been given access to the current proposed text at all if they agreed to very restrictive conditions. Everything else is being done by people who aren't directly accountable to the public, and in most cases aren't even readily identifiable.
This is one of the reasons critics of TTIP will advocate striking the whole thing down. Some really do think it should be thrown out on principle as an affront to democracy, but others are playing a more strategic game, knowing that if the European Parliament starts to look like it actually might flex its muscles in that way, those promoting TTIP will be forced to open it up to full MEP scrutiny and get them back on side before there is any chance of the deal being successful.
Its interesting that that would be controversial about the EU -- isn't that true of many national governments within the EU (most certainly including the UK) -- as well, that the only directly-elected body at the level of the national government is the Parliament, and there are all kinds of other powerful offices and bodies, and the people in those offices and bodies are all appointed in various ways, being only indirectly accountable to the citizenry?
I'd say at least for the UK the main difference is that there is still a real prospect of holding the appointed parts of the government to account at the next election. Technically, we elect local MPs, with all the usual objections about first past the post. In reality, the party a prospective MP represents is the dominant factor in who wins, except in a few rare cases with perhaps an overriding local issue or protest vote. Consequently the PM (the first indirectly appointed role, normally determined by who can command majority support in Parliament) and government ministers (the next tier, effectively appointed by the PM) are still strongly accountable to the electorate in practice. If they do unpopular things, the MPs from whom the administration as a whole derives its power, and most of the officials as MPs themselves, will face the consequences at the next election. (This doesn't apply to the same extent for government ministers who are Lords rather than MPs, but appointments to the entirely undemocratic House of Lords is a whole issue in itself.)
This is quite different to the executive of the EU, where Commissioners sent by member states are infamously often failed but high profile national politicians who are either being given a pat on the back by a friendly administration or shipped out of the way for a while because they're too dangerous to keep around back home. Which mandate each Commissioner is given then depends on the President of the Commission, who in turn is decided through such a complicated process that I won't even try to describe it here. If you as a citizen don't like the way an incumbent European Commissioner is handling their brief, there is no real prospect of influencing them to change it. Even in the face of overwhelming public opposition to some policy, by the time the people have voted to change the balance of power in enough places that either the Commissioner is no longer appointed by their home state or the European Parliament can bring down a Commission, the term of office would probably be up anyway.
By the time a law arrives at the first public comment stage, even in the UK, it has already been the subject of a lot of conversation and negotiation behind closed doors. MPs do not have cameras in their offices and public file servers. Bills introduced for consideration do not spring fully-formed from the forehead of one MP, surprising everyone around them. They are talked about at length before even being drafted.
Discussions in the UN about issues as big as imposing sanctions or going to war have taken place with more transparency than we're seeing here. National politicians who have defied public opinion on such matters have sometimes paid a heavy price for it at the next elections.
I mean, seriously, we're talking about a bilateral trade deal here, not the fate of humanity. Yes, each party has some internal political structure and local variations, but the point of both the EU and the US is to have regulated, harmonious local variations so the whole can still function effectively.
Please tell me, if everything is above board, what is so secret about this kind of a deal that it justifies obstructing not only the public but their elected representatives from watching it develop? For that matter, why should those elected representatives not then block the entire thing on principle, if they are only to be asked to rubber stamp the results without substantial scrutiny or a meaningful opportunity to actually represent the interests of their electorates?
Also, this is getting very tiresome. Representatives have enough time to familiarize themselves with the draft and decide what to vote. This whole "the secret cabal is making treaties without you" is nothing more than sensationalist FUD. Only the negotiations are in secret. As they should be.
I'm not even sure what your point is any more. Looking through your comments in this thread, your argument appears to be that negotiations on international agreements must happen in secret, because reasons.
Representatives have enough time to familiarize themselves with the draft and decide what to vote.
We've already seen procedural technicalities used to set up end-runs around proper scrutiny by elected representatives, in the context of international agreements in the recent past. This has been done both in the US and the EU.
Even if those elected representatives do have ample time for scrutiny, if they have no meaningful opportunity to actually represent their electorates by advocating substantial changes as appropriate, the scrutiny is of very little value.
True or false? "When they are called on to scrutinise and approve TTIP, the directly elected representatives of people in the US and the EU member states will have available to them an effective mechanism to change the substance of the proposal in areas they do not believe to be in the interests of those they represent."
One reasonable process might be having each country send their appointed representatives to negotiate initially, then bringing back a first attempt at consensus for proper and open scrutiny by national authorities. Then you send your delegates back to attempt to resolve any show-stopping issues and prepare final wording. Finally you ask each country's national government to ratify the final agreement. If really necessary, the national scrutiny/delegate negotiations cycle can be repeated first, though if that is happening it suggests the attempted scope of the agreement is too broad to be practical.
This way you would have a chance for people who were actually elected to influence the outcome usefully, without resorting to ongoing line-by-line revisions by thousands of individual MP, MEPs, US senators, etc. You just have to recognise that your delegated negotiators are not sent with the authority to make major policy decisions but only to reach a consensus that all parties can accept on areas where you are already broadly in agreement.
If they aren't able to do that, such that they can come back with a proposal that each country can clearly favour overall with no deal-breaking terms, then again they probably shouldn't have been trying to form such a complicated agreement about such controversial areas between so many different parties in the first place.
Are you absolutely sure that you know how the current process works? Or you just read some articles here and there and concocted the story in your head?
I don't know, and I don't think you do either, because it was done in secret with no open, democratic debate. You can tell this from the fact that many elected representatives who participate in the normal democratic processes are among those complaining about a lack of access.
Einstein's words, not mine.
In any case, you are making a fallacious argument from authority. Quoting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority#Appeal... :
> A common example of the fallacy is appealing to an authority in one subject to pontificate on another - for example citing Albert Einstein as an authority on religion when his expertise was in physics.
I quoted it because it sums my thesis pretty well. People are very, very stupid. You cannot count on them not being swayed by some pretty words and blowing the whole treaty out of the water with some misguided protests.
Perhaps if you frequent HN, you don't know how stupid people are, because you only talk to the the smartest 10%.
People being stupid (short-sighted, narrow-minded, self-centered, ignorant) includes people in power. If you're not a fan of democracy, you should just say so rather than dance around it.
What a sad world you live in.
Indeed, they just don't want us little folks to disturb their dealings.
They say it's a free trade deal of sorts, but actual free trade could be arranged overnight: just stop intervening in trade, and it will be free.
I get the feeling that the tone on HN has changed a bit. Are intelligent people finally waking up to doubt their "representatives'" or governments' good intentions?
It's difficult to see how they could make it any clearer that they're working against our interests. Going full police state on us would do it, but there's not much room in between.
We have had close to nothing of those things regarding this treaty and the changes it propose, so the process for TTIP is completely different from how most laws are made. If we compared its process to the recent work done in EU to draft network neutrality laws, we see almost no comparable aspects at all.
Most laws are not passed after a long public debate in parliament, certainly not years (that would make for really slow legislation). In fact, almost all laws see almost no debate at all. As an example, just today the federal parliament passed a law without plenary debate at all and with no votes against to streamline electronic communication with the patent and trademark office. The law was introduced in November and voted through all required phases as just a single line-item every time. That is not an exceptional example.
Sure, these are mostly low-profile, low-impact laws so not really comparable to TTIP.
But extremely fast lawmaking is also not unheard of. For example, the "Finanzmarktstabilisierungsgesetz" during the financial crisis was first introduced to parliament and the public on 14th October 2008 and already went in full force by 18th October 2008. And that was certainly not your regular change of traffic rules but introduced hundreds of billions euros of liability. Of course that drew a lot of criticism.
I'm not saying everything went well with TTIP (certainly it didn't). But if you talk to anyone in the EU commission they will tell you that they have been really caught off guard with the public interest which hadn't been anticipated at all. It was not that they purposefully hid the negotiations from the public to reach their goals but rather did what felt natural to them. The EU has negotiated dozens of similar treaties (though smaller and lower-impact) with nobody voicing interest in the process.
When was the last time you heard about trade agreements with Singapore, Japan, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, the East African Community, Thailand, Morocco, India, etc.? All those are currently being drafted or have just been finalized without any public debate at all. Many of those contain clauses similar to the ones criticized with TTIP.
Of course we should ask critically why they saw it that way and hope that it will change in the future to more open negotiations. But saying TTIP was created in an exceptional never-seen-before process is really stretching reality.
Drafting the net-neutrality laws is the exception rather than the norm here learned after years of public debate on certain topics.
2) The Parliament can vote it down or up, which means there's a 90% chance it will pass, unless there are large protests all over the EU, like it happened with ACTA. However, this time they need to be even bigger because ACTA was mostly about copyright, so the EU Parliament didn't care that much about it. This is about trade and they care much more.
If the deal is not done in secret, people'll complain about the draft terms before it is finalized.
You say this like it is something bad. That's the point of transparency.
It's like that old comic I just remembered, it depicts a guy in a ladder painting "Cofee" sign for a coffee shop and below him the owner is looking up at the typo and frowning and the painter said: "Jeez man, at least wait until it dries out!".
That little bit there is called democracy. Without transparency, it's called fascism.
"complain" just means negative feedback which should be taken into consideration since a draft is a version which is still being worked on. Isn't that how it should really be?
Sounds like you'd be afraid of public discourse.
Public discourse isn't the same as what happens when the media spins a narrative about a piece of legislation. You and I both know they don't need truth to make a story.
And small-time politicians looking to make a name for themselves will always impede the process, regardless of whether or not it's a good process.
Having the public voice their dissent is good. Letting a piece of legislation get ripped to shreds because some small-name representative has a hard-on for one of the bill's co-creators is not.
Look, the thing has to be made public to be voted upon anyways and at that point the small time poltician with a hard-on as you put it can also start his show.
You shouldn't be afraid that some idiots talk crap about something you work on if you really believe in it. Just follow through and see if it gets public support in the end or not.
It's not just some idiot talking crap about something you're working on. This isn't a college project. It's someone putting your entire past, present, and future on television and the radio making false claims about you. It's someone making your personal information known publicly so you can receive threats. If you don't have the same dollars as the other guy, it's someone controlling the public narrative to paint you as Satan himself.
It's so much more in depth than taking valid criticism. YOU don't have to pay attention to them, as the person fronting the bill. But the 300,000,000 other people in the US will.
And then, right or wrong, good or bad, you lose. Again, not an insult, but yours is an unbelievably naive view of how politics works.
If you think people would get upset about trade policy, maybe you should look at issues that ARE debated in detail like abortion, gay marriage, gun control. People are murdered over these issues. Trade policy barely registers on the scale.
You seem to think we live in this perfect world where only rational things happen and everyone is well read and educated. Unfortunately, we do not and please open your eyes already. Thank you.
The bill being "torn to shreds" is a feature, not a bug -- the citizenry of every involved country would all be a lot better off if the TPP and TTIP were subject to the same scrutiny as any other law and invariably torn to shreds.
Negotiators make proposals which might seem outrageous. Nobody thinks they will get drafted. It is a step towards getting a concession from the opposing side. Just like in the movies. One side starts at 4000, the other at 1,000 and they meet at 2,500.
You keep saying "but... but... it would be different from how it is now!" all over this thread (and are frequently rude and condescending). And everyone else is saying "yes, exactly, that's the point". Different is not bad. You need to go a step further and explain why transparency would /not be better/, pointing out that having our laws drafted by corporate interests with near zero citizen input in secret is the way we currently choose to do things is not good enough.
Taking the condescending approach is much saner than the alternative when everybody is very naive.
The community's general response to you has been very kind considering how you are acting, I think to its credit.
I have of course said nothing of the sort about rational actions and neither has anyone here. I expect nothing of the sort from any of those groups, of course, and neither does anyone. It must be convenient to be able to tell everyone you disagree with what they are thinking and then argue against the position you've invented. What you've done is typically called a "straw man" and is generally associated with arguing in bad faith.
It seems you've decided you have the answer (and surprise, it's the status quo) and anyone who disagrees with you is naive and stupid, so there isn't much point in continuing this discussion for either of us.
Who gets to establish the context in the first place?
I would rather have naive Carter than condescending Kissinger represent me.
Well yeah. Treaties that run against the interests of the people are supposed to be avoided, not shoe-horned through.
Yeah, that's the point in having drafts, so you can revise them based on feedback from the stakeholders.
I don't think you should punish people with ex post facto laws, and in many countries you can't.
Regarding the US, these treaties will probably effect more harm to the protections and government as defined by the Constitution than any army. So at what point does that count as "levying war"? Or are we going to pretend that "war" doesn't include economic weapons?
(I suspect this might be easier in other countries, that use a less restrictive definition of treason)
They're probably allowed to do it however they please, after all they wrote the document and are free to "license" it however they want
What puzzles me is that TTIP is even in consideration anymore with these measures and all the secret keeping in place.
If it truly were that good for us WHY on earth would you take these measures?
As there will be single-issue opponents in each of the parties, any multi-parties negotiation will fail if it happens in public.
Thanks for bringing our attention on this.
Anything short of that makes a mockery of the idea that we have any sort of democracy. A democracy where the demos aren't allowed to read the treaties before they are ratified, what a ridiculous perversion of a notion that is.
Of course the politicians involved could instead come out and say "this is how it is, we don't care about democracy; we're in charge and you can all put up with what we say". At least then you could respect their honesty.
Having to spy on people to discover details of legislation proposed for your own country, that's a dictatorship.
I don’t just want to see the material, I want to see who added/removed what and when.
That would be ridiculous, but TTIP will be published when people agree on what it should be, then it'll be voted on. See here: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/about-ttip/pr...
When you think "X is ridiculous" consider that maybe X is not actually true.
In this case, the electorate is left with a choice between getting all of the multiparty treaty or none of it.
The bread is nice and springy, sliced to just the right thickness. The lettuce, tomato, and onion are all delicious and salubrious. The sauce is tangy, and a tiny bit sweet. But the turd inside is vile, odorous, and steaming. And you get the bill, and find that you already paid $100 for that sandwich, whether you eat it or not.
Now, had the public been given a chance to participate in the negotiations and debate, someone might have suggested, "Hey, how about we make a sandwich that doesn't have a giant, steaming turd in it?" And the designated negotiators look up, twitch their clubbed antennae, flex their mouth-parts in astonishment and horror, and brush down their shiny black carapaces with the knobby combs on their foremost pair of legs. Then they respond, "But the ball of dung is the only essential part of the whole sandwich!"
And that's when you realize that the world is run by dung beetles 1.8m long, who have absolutely zero understanding about why we humans don't just squeal with delight and scarf down the poop, with gusto, whenever it is handed to us.
> dung beetles 1.8m long, who have absolutely zero understanding about why we humans don't just squeal with delight and scarf down the poop
You know how they say "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity", right?
The next level of understanding is that the aphorism has it backwards.
Instead, it should say something like: "Do attribute to malice that which looks like stupidity and is harmful to the people's interests". That would be accurate.
It's not that they don't understand what they're doing. You don't get to be a high-ranking politician by being stupid, let alone one of the people telling Congressmen how many minutes they're graciously allowed to look at TTIP..
And as usual with treaties in the EU system, the people will be told, "vote for this treaty, or you're a fascist."
So you take a willing MP, teach them about mnemonics, memory palaces, chunking, and list-ordering narratives, and you could likely smuggle out a few dozen pages every week.
That should be nothing new, since the EU has been doing that for ages. Just ask the Britons who would prefer to continue using their traditional measures instead of French measures. Just ask those European states whose people would prefer to retain capital punishment.
Oh thank God that we don't have to use those bloody traditional measures any more. Best, idea, ever! Have you any idea what it's like to try and do base 12 and base 16 calculations when you're 10? Without a calculator??
Presumably there's some alternate universe out there where the British Empire still rules the globe, and the world was forced to convert to imperial - in that universe you have a legitimate complaint. Not in this one.
It's embarrassing that even this site has succumbed to it.
It's not that secret. It's secret while they work on it, sure, but I've watched countless debates with the Commission vs. EUP. I still have faith that Parliament can protect us (and if not then there's still public outrage and protest if TTIP is ridiculous).
I have very low hopes that reason will prevail in this case.
Voted for a not-yet negotiated trade agreement? Are you sure you've not misunderstood this?
* UK MP on transparency - http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/18/mps-can-view...
* German MP on what is NOT in the documents - http://www.waronwant.org/media/what-i-didn%E2%80%99t-read-tt...
Sure why not, they've done such a great job so far at protecting Europeans in general and Greeks in particular.
It's only that, as everybody knows, the parliament shouldn't be involved in serious issues.
We have grow up people in charge of those things that know exactly what is convenient for us.
Well, the EU Parliament never did much for the fact that important decisions in the eurozone are taken by non-elected bureucrats (e.g. the EC) or unofficial and un-accountable bodies (the "eurogroup").
People who plan your future in secret, do so exactly because they fear you stopping them.
Stopping all of this is a matter of getting involved in your local/state/nation-state politics now... today. It is disingenuous to suggest that you will get `a chance` to object later. Perhaps that is the case technically, but it will be pushed through unless you have a community, and a local/state government willing to oppose it, and stay opposed to it. The offensiveness of TTIP is lost on most people outside of the technical community. Or, if you give up on your current governance... you can come join those of us in NH who are generally very opposed to such things: https://freestateproject.org/
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
"The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States"
One such area is that the TTIP might include provisions that are broadly worded and have unintended (or "actually intended but they'd never admit to it") side effects. For example, if businesses in foreign countries gained new rights to sue national governments if the governments act in a way that costs those businesses revenue, would that mean a government can no longer ban smoking in public places by law without paying compensation to the cigarette firms? Or if we extended patent rights in the pharmaceutical industry, would that limit the access of patients in poor countries to generic medicines they can afford, and force them to buy branded versions at much higher cost or go without?
The other area of controversy is the secrecy of the negotiations. It seems likely that significant parts of the proposed agreement have been influenced or even written by lobbyists representing special interest groups. However, pushing these kinds of changes via a trade agreement means the exact wording is kept between a small number of officials from the EU and US and isn't subject to wider scrutiny. Even elected representatives in European and more recently national governments only have access to documents under tightly controlled conditions. Thus there is concern that what will be presented for more democratically accountable consideration will effectively be a fait accompli, one big take-it-or-leave-it bundle of new rules backed by heavy political pressure to take it even if some of the details aren't wanted.
For a more detailed criticism, there are a few articles like this one around:
That is completely untrue.
A businesses in foreign countries CAN sue a national governments if pass protectionist regulations that favor domestic businesses.
For example: The US can pass environmental regulations blocking all logging on Federally owned land. They can not pass regulations that only allow US-based companies to log on Federally owned land. If they did, then foreign companies could sue for being excluded.
>It's impossible to have a rational debate on the subject
With all the FUD being spread around, I completely agree.
As I have consistently said, that may be the case.
But the fact is that I don't know that for sure, and unless you're both one of a very select group and violating an explicit confidentiality agreement by posting here, neither do you.
Just like it may be the case that the moon landings were faked.
>unless you're both one of a very select group and violating an explicit confidentiality agreement by posting here, neither do you.
The full text of TIPP has been released for months now. I know because I have read factual reporting from journalists who have actually read the text, not from ignorant FUD spreaders in website comment sections.
Corporations' interests aren't identical so they cannot be defended by one lobby.
And there are lobbies defending non-corporate interests. And those can be a. quite powerful b. quite nefarious.
The secrecy during negotiation is necessary because "someone soemwhere has a good reason to oppose something".
The fact that there are many somewheres, someones and somethings involved make it impossible to do it in public.
- you have a nascent agroculture sector that could benefit from some lower tarifs on exports to the US.
- you also have some labour preference laws in your existing oil industry (this is quite common).
Because the only people in the US who care about your country are probably the Oil Companies operating there, getting rid of the labour restrictions in the oil industry is a priority on the US side.
And lower tarrifs on your Cocoa or Vanilla exports wouldn't cost much.
But you know those entrenched local workers in the oil industry are a powerful lobby in your country. You know they will raise hell if those restrictions go away.
And you know they'll probably win if you don't have something to show for it. Something real and something a more powerful "lobby" (like millions of farmers) will support.
Do you really think it's smarter to have that fight back home before starting the negotiations ?
Especially since TPP is (in large part) designed to prevent China steamrolling entire industries and crushing foreign economies through shear size and sketchy economic measures. If the negotiations are public China has way more time to react to the measures, either by working around them or by threatening countries until they drop out.
TPP may or may not be a bad thing, but "negotiated in secret" doesn't make it bad.
Goat Cheese farmers or Cab drivers have and will make hell if there's even one line that they deem unacceptable even if the whole thing could (not necessarily will) be beneficial for the whole country.
And given the populist tendencies of the media on some topics, the people will probably agree.
For instance, discussions about late, seemingly small changes can reveal agendas. Commas, minor word substitutions and other small-distance edits can have major alterations in meaning.
To the extent that minutes and logs of meetings were kept, they should now be published.
To the extend that minutes and logs were burnt or destroyed or avoided, the TTIP should be treated similarly.
Democracy is more a form of elitism than "power to the people". It has always been like that.
Another system is possible (like Futarchy or a form of Anarchism) but the transition is risky.
Democratic institutions and transparency, however, provide an important safety valve for the smooth functioning of society. They are important tools to keep the elites in check. This is important for elites and for everyone else!
Elites in other times and places tend to get a little full of themselves after a while. "Divine mandate" and all that. They start to take their position for granted, and become more and more brazen in the pursuit of their own (oftentimes stupid) self-interests. When things get too far out of whack, a revolution erupts, which kills a lot of people and destroys a lot of wealth. This is bad for every class, rich and poor.
Transparency helps to curb the behavior of the elites, steering them away from the most egregious pursuits. Democratic institutions (though still controlled by the elites) allow society to adapt to changing times more easily, and allow through the will of the people to some extent.
Elites should understand (though some apparently don't) that a stable society benefits them as much as anyone. What good is your wealth if you have to spend a lot of it on security? The stress isn't worth it.
It doesn't work like that. A lot of people do their best (including in politics in current governments).
If they fell too much, they will be replaced by another group (probably more progressist).
We can have a war between the two phases (in Europe). Europe is not stable anymore.
Many movements and initiatives currently exist promoting this method of government
People don't take time to read their medicine bottle warnings, let alone the contents of the new Higher Education Act. I'm honestly afraid that righteous attitudes fueled by ignorance would rule.
It would put an incredible amount of power in the hands of mass-media as well (more than they already have). Well-designed and well-timed stories can sway public opinion waaaay too easily.
Combine that with how the government seems to handle IT security issues in these type of large-scale projects, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Except they don't really either.
They typically have a rather large staff to do that for them, and paid lobbyists fill in the rest, along with large contributions of course.
To be honest, I find this lack of faith in the intelligence and integrity of your fellow man/woman rather disturbing, especially in this current social-justice warrior environment where we are all depending more on each other to get things right.
In the simplest cast, everyone would vote for the "cool" proposals but nobody would vote for the ways to pay for them.
I think like Churchill that it's the best political system we've tried. You can change the government without a revolution. It's not so bad.
It think for technical problems, you're right, democracy and debates can help a lot to distinguish the good choice.
How does TTIP affect small business, and startups in Australia-Canda-America-Asia?
How does TTIP affect small business, and startups in the Pacifics?
You have to worry about TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades
As far as I know there are roughly 5 multinational trade deals in the works at the moment... TPP, TTIP, TISA, CETA and one more I forgot the name of that involves China.
EDIT: The multinational trade deal currently being negotiated that involves China is the RCEP:
If we do; who would then be trusted to read through the 600 page document and give an objective report on it's content? Because it has to be viewed in context, right? Not just a single paragraph used as click bait to up the advertising revenue. Who would we agree on should be considered a "real journalist"?
It's tricky. We fear what we don't know and distrust those who do.
A dreamy solution would be a system that allows politicians to comment on laws and voters to assign and re-assign points to those they agree with. Voters wouldn't decide laws but be able to show their support for different view points which we could graph over time and match against politicians votes.
But, yeah, internet voting is equally tricky.
-Noam Chomsky, Business Today, May 1973
So if you want to successfully do it, you have to keep as many people in the dark, since I also believe those big companies have a tremendous influence on politicians. Maybe it's just to let people negotiate in peace, without having to deal with noise you can see on meetings like the G20 or G8, and all the special interests knocking on your door. Maybe this deal is pure international politics, which is going beyond the scope of democracy (the world is not a democracy, last I checked).
We already have separation of church and state, maybe it's time to have separation of business and state? That's why I think it's easy to paint those treaties as A Bad Thing(tm), but I think it's more difficult to grasp the complexity of international politics intertwined with international trade.
Although I could be completely wrong, but I always tend to take things with a bigger grain of salt when it involves activists who can't really give me a clear reason on what X thing is bad.
But, if you are not very naive, you should be asking yourself why a free trade treaty is so important when we already have free trade. And if it's only a few changes to the current situation, why all the secret?
Anyway, the things that have been leaked don't sound very well.
Depends on your definition of "free trade", but we don't have completely free trade; many countries have high tarrifs, for example Japan's rice tarrif.
(OK, this is TPP, but I'm sure the same point applies).
Huh? Those treaties are the wet dream of multinationals and all about further "globalization" (of private interests).
That's the very reason they are kept closed.
It is exactly completely opposite. And documented many times over. Just google.
I would like to be able to vote out any political party that is entering into such an agreement, but if it's the EU's bureaucracy itself I have no democratic way to do so.
(I'm asking this sincerely. I don't yet know enough to be able to be for or against Brexit.)
Also, the EU Commission (that is the administrative body that you call the EU's bureaucracy) cannot take office or stay in office without the approval of the European parliament. The European parliament has kicked out a commission before so they are by no means a paper tiger.
The commission can do very little on its own other than managing things according to existing rules. Without the parliament and the European council (which comprises representatives of national governments), no substantive new regulations can be passed.
So yes you can vote them all out and no, the "EU's bureaucracy" cannot enter into such an agreement all by itself.
Which is quite funny when you consider removing EU regulation is a bit of a rallying cry for the Brexiters (?).
These sweeping treaties (they are not agreements) lay the foundation of world government. yiu can be certain that nothing good will come from politicians secretly meeting to talk about a plan that no one is sharing. These treaties provide for unprecedented power to corporations to determine the goods and services to be traded. They are stripping away the boarders and soon the beast will be revealed.
The word of the decade is transparency, you assumed it was the government being transparent when in fact it is you and me that are transparent to the governments and corporations.
It's pretty much as democratic as you can get.
-Zbigniew Brzezinski, BETWEEN TWO AGES: America's Role in the Technetronic Era
To be honest, the NWO might be something good. Maybe in the future we'll admit it was a necessary thing to do. Just like there might be a time where people shouted against the republic system.
remember how Obama was going to ban lobbyists? ha
In the US, yes. Now they are spreading it to Europe with TTIP.
Edit: Not that Europe is some sort of magical haven of democracy currently, but this surely won't improve the situation.
I recommend this lecture by Varoufakis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCA68U3P_Z8) where he explains his experience.
In fact, I think that the situation is worse in Europe that in the States. The members of the Euro have very limited capacity of action because they have lost control of monetary policy to "higher" authorities.
TTIP will have a similar effect, democratic governments constrained by rules sets in treaties almost impossible to change.
My personal opinion is that this is the real goal of TTIP.