1.500 European Local Authorities Declared TTIP Free Zones
This post is also available in: Greek
Negotiators working on the TTIP want the job to be done quickly, before Obama’s end of presidency in USA. However, a very significant movement of local authorities are rising all around Europe against this treaty between EU-US. More than 1500 regions, municipalities, local governments and councils in European countries have already passed motions declaring themselves as TTIP/CETA/TiSA-free zones!
Many of the representatives of these authorities (together with activists, NGOs and several others) are gathered right now in Barcelona on April 21-22nd and raising their voices against TTIP. This gathering will happen just two days before the President of the USA and the Chancellor of Germany (Angela Merkel) will meet in Hannover (Saturday, April 23rd), having TTIP as the main focus in their agenda for the discussion.
Given the chance of the declaring the municipality of Corfu, Greece, as a TTIP free-zone, Pirate Times contacted Dimitris Fanariotis, representative of the Greek branch against TTIP and chairing of the “Environmental Initiative of Corfu”, which is a member of “EcoCorfu” (both organizations are participating in the Greek initiative against TTIP-CETA-TISA), to ask how it can be done.
Pirate Times: What is your opinion on the latest news on TTIP?
Dimitris Fanariotis: In my opinion, Obama’s visit to Germany is to discuss with Merkel about ways to promote TTIP, exactly the day after Barcelona’s conference, is a distraction concerning to the meeting of the Mayors in Barcelona. It will not be any surprise if we hear him “scold” the Mayors, as the father of naughty children, saying that “also in USA Mayors often oppose the investment efforts of the central government and their concerns are always exaggerated, but they must not be afraid of progress and development”. But you know, in Greece, “Kalikratis” the bill for the local self governance was made for this reason: For the positive elements – yes, it also has negative – to keep the power, decisions and control at the local, decentralized level. The Transatlantic Conspiracies will NOT pass!
Pirate Times: Where are we today concerning a) the mobilization against TTIP and b) the negotiations in the EU.
Dimitris Fanariotis: It is amazing how fast civil society is able to get organized and connected worldwide! Through the official site of the European Initiative https://stop-ttip.org/ you can watch the latest news and developments. Also in http://stop-ttip-ceta-greece.blogspot.gr the blog of the Greek Initiative, you can find the latest news in Greek.
But the lack of transparency on the issue and the discussions, which are being made behind closed doors rather than through public consultation, resulted those who promote transatlantic trade agreements, always being several steps ahead and having the advantage. Take for instance, the most recent development: We learn that CETA, has been “constructed” in such a way that it is already in a “temporary” enforcement, without the consent of the countries’ Parliaments. And all of this happened because of a term they had put in the agreement and if it is “true”, it only takes a simple majority of the EU Member States to automatically apply the agreement in all countries! Thus, it removes one of the fundamental rights of the EU Member States, which is the ability to veto.
In 2016, it is expected the discussion in the European Parliament to be completed, on one hand the modified form of TTIP (v1.1) and on the other the ratification and implementation of CETA. The modified TTIP finally included no addition of “good” points, as they have said it would. As we’ve just learned from the legal department of the European Initiative ten days ago, more stake-holders added, namely more lobbyists of American corporations, who still add more opaque terms.
PT: Are you optimistic about the outcome of the mobilization against TTIP?
DF: I am optimistic by nature, in the sense that when you fight for something which is objectively right, it gives you the strength to win sooner or later. It is enough and this is a key condition, not to give up and not let it take you down until the final victory. In no case should we accept the partial successes of the opponent! We need to regroup quickly, too.
Of course, the question is how to deal with an opponent who has staffs of consultants and experts that the civil movement can not hope to have. They apply, what I personally call, a “unorthodox” marketing. It is not simple at all to repel the aggression of those “unorthodox” techniques they use.
PT: What are the effects of the EU approval and implementation of such agreements?
DF: The abolition of Democratic Rights. Above all, “participatory Democracy” is being damaged, by repealing citizen’s right of participation, not only in decision making but at all levels of the acquired rights. It abolishes human rights and abolishes freedom. Indeed, no science fiction writer could ever imagine the final form, in which globalization comes, to enforce a new class of powerful domination. We talk about countries occupied by corporations and not by other states, as hitherto.
PT: Recently the municipality of Corfu declared itself as a TTIP – free zone. Is this something that legally can be effective if the European Parliament votes in favor of TTIP?
DF: Within all ills, such “political” decisions lend, if anything, an optimism to continue for more. Indeed, a political decision has no “executive” power. It is not a “command”, but it is neither a simple “wish”. It is a dynamic decision that reflects the will of a society. Especially when it is unanimous, as was that of Corfu, is a strong mandate for the “up”.
Such was the decision for the GMO products. In this case it was successful because, while in America GMO’s have entered too deeply in the markets, in Europe they did not manage to pass. Transatlantic agreements even danger now to accept GMO’s, on the basis of the “democratic right” of the company to sell them to another country in the world. And if you do not accept it, then the company can impose them by a court decision!
PT: How can a municipality (or region) declare their boundaries as TTIP – free zone? What should they do?
DF: The declaration of a Municipality (or a Region) as a TTIP – Free Zone, requires only a simple decision by the City Council. It can be done by a simple majority, but it would be better an unanimous decision in order to have a political power.
It needs to be put on the agenda by the president of the City Council. The presentation of the motion can be done by a representative of the municipal authority, or by a representative of the organization (NGO) that submitted the proposal to the chairman of the Board. In the city of Corfu, the recommendation of the Mayor was excellent and so we, as an Environmental Initiative, did not need to add too much. The key to achieve such a task is providing the appropriate and right information to councilors. Also it would be good the discussion in the City Council to remain around the issue of the self-government rights which are affected.
Eventually six representatives from Greece are present at the Barcelona Conference, three from local governments and three from organizations of the Greek initiative against TTIP, CETA and TISA!
Pirate Times wishes to thank Dimitris Fanariotis for the interview and we hope you succeed in preventing TTIP.
More about the Barcelona Conference.
Featured image: Nature Friends Greece CC BY-SA
About Stathis Leivaditis
The English “pirate” is derived from the Greek word “πειρατής” (peiratēs) and this in turn from the verb “πειράομαι” (peiráomai), “I attempt”, which is a derivative of the noun “πείρα” (peîra), “experience”. Coming from the depths of the centuries, the word “pirate” took on another dimension in our days. The ruling classes saw pirates as rebels and hated them. Rebels without a state, they were not submissive to any law, except from the laws they instituted themselves, improvising together. This is the feeling of a Pirate: when something doesn’t work, you have to attempt to bring a new concept. Sometimes it goes beyond a certain point and perhaps exceeds certain limits, because it is an expression of challenge; the challenge to change the system. I’m a member of the Board (and former chairman) of Pirate Party of Greece, also a member of press team of PPGR, former journalist, now a free lancer. I'm in the team of Pirate Times from the start, I joined voluntarily and consciously because I am interested to meet pirates from around the world, to exchange views and spread the pirate spirit.