TTIP + TPP = ACTA Mark II
It’s a bit worrying that Cameron is all gung-ho about the EU-US trade agreement. “An EU-US trade deal, for example, could be worth £10 billion to the UK alone – in the end that’s not some abstract statistic, these trade deals matter, because they mean more jobs, more choice for consumers and lower prices,” he said, ushering in the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
Actually, they mean more profits for big business and greater control for governments. Trade agreements never translate into ‘more jobs, more choice for consumers and lower prices’ for real people. At the most, they become, “well, it would have been less jobs, less choice and higher prices if we didn’t have the trade agreement.”
The trade agreement in question is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being discussed by the EU and the US. It will complement the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) being led by the US and encompassing the Pacific Rim. But make no mistake, TTIP + TPP = ACTA Mark II.
The European digital rights group EDRI shone some light.
“The Commission was careful to stress that TTIP was not a ‘new ACTA’. This too provided five minutes of hope that lessons had been learned and the same old mistakes would not be made again. Then, the discussion turned to transparency and the Commission confirmed that, as things currently stand, the level of transparency would be identical to what was done with ACTA.”
TTIP – a brief victory of hope over experience
The Commission said that the IPR (that is, copyright protection) element of the TTIP ‘would only include such issues where a problem was identified by stakeholders – just a narrow range of issues and only ‘geographic indicators’ have so far been selected.’
If the list of issues to be addressed in the “IPR chapter” is limited and only includes clearly identified problems, will the Commission undertake to publish details of each such problem that is addressed in the final draft? The Commission responded that it would not make such an undertaking, because it could not be expected to provide details of “every single detail” of the agreement tackling intellectual property. Suddenly, we had moved from a narrow, focussed exercise to address a small number of identified problems, to a list of measures that was potentially so long that it would be unreasonable to ask the Commission to explain what problems it was seeking to solve.
To paraphrase Churchill, concludes EDRI, “never in the history of mankind was so little meaning conveyed by so many words to such little effect…” In short, TTIP and its even more secretive partner TPP are ACTA returned.