The biggest US-EU free trade agreement in history is advancing behind closed doors

Secret negotiations between the US and EU for the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever negotiated resume on April 20 in New York. The talks are attracting increasing criticism as activists guess at the proposals while politicians keep the details behind closed doors.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a massive new trade deal, expected to be completed in the next few months, that would cut tariffs on imported goods between the two powers while standardising safety rules.

That might mean Scottish manufacturers can sell woollen jumpers in the US cheaply, while give US brands direct access to the EU market. Critics say it could reduce European safety standards and allow the privatisation of services such as the NHS.

But we cannot sure, because the negotiations occur behind closed doors. One MEP told the Guardian she had to sign a document of some 14 pages, reminding her that ‘EU institutions are a valuable target’ and of the dangers of espionage. She also had to agree not to share any of the contents with her constituents.

Activists are mobilising against the treaty nonetheless. Thousands took to the streets in major European cities like Madrid and Brussels on Sunday to protest against the latest round of talks. A crowd of 23,000 gathered in Munich.

The most controversial part of the deal (that we know about) is a clause that would give corporations the right to sue governments, effectively putting them above national law. Even in the US, critics have been outspoken about the potential for an agreement to undermine state and local laws.

Full article: The biggest US-EU free trade agreement in history is advancing behind closed doors (The Independent)

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