The ATM document is out !
Download the document here : Trade-time_for_a_new_vision-PRINT
Over 50 civil society groups demand a paradigm shift in EU trade and investment policies
Today, a European alliance of over 50 civil society organisations  will launch the Alternative Trade Mandate , a proposal to make EU trade and investment policy work for people and the planet, not just the profit interests of a few. The launch is taking place as EU trade ministers and the European Commission are leaving for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations in Bali next week.
“The current trade and investment regime, imposed by the EU and the WTO, isn’t working. Prising markets open for global agri-business is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. The deregulation of financial services through free trade agreements impedes tough regulation of the financial sector, paving the way for the next disastrous financial crisis. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda,” says Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament, who is in Brussels to support the launch of the Alternative Trade Mandate.
The new 20-page mandate proposes that core principles such as human and labour rights and environmental protection should drive EU trade policy. On several areas, such as food, work, money and raw materials, detailed proposals for change are outlined. One proposal is for the EU to become more self-sufficient in protein and oil crops as alternatives to imports of (genetically-modified) soybeans, palm oil and agrofuels, which are devastating for the environment and small farmers in the global south. The mandate also calls on the EU to hold European corporations accountable for human rights violations, environmental destruction, tax avoidance and tax evasion elsewhere.
The mandate also proposes a new process for initiating, negotiating and finalising trade and investment agreements, giving national Parliaments and civil society a stronger role and thereby rolling back policy-capture by big business.
“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. The people who are affected by these deals have never been asked what they really need. We want an open and democratic process, controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups,” says Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance.
The proposals outlined in the Alternative Trade Mandate were developed in a four-year process, with public workshops held all over Europe and which engaged a wide range of civil society groups from both within and outside the EU.
A series of papers with more detailed proposals on several pressing issues accompanies the main text . The proposals will form the basis of an EU-wide campaign to make trade and investment work for people and the environment, which will first focus on the European elections next May, asking parliamentary candidates to pledge support for the Alternative Trade Mandate.
“At a time of multiple global crises, the European Parliament needs MEPs who will stand up for trade rules that work for people and the planet. We need MEPs who will bring trade deals out of the shadows and into the light. We call on MEP candidates to stand up for democratic trade and investment rules that serve people, the economy and the environment at large – not just the profit interests of a few,” says Amélie Canonne, co-ordinator of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance.
The Alternative Trade Mandate will be launched in Brussels during an assembly this afternoon, where speakers from the global south, crisis-struck countries in Europe, trade unions, migrant groups and the European Parliament will comment on the proposals. Tomorrow, a “walk of resistance and alternatives” will take place through the EU quarter .
Amélie Canonne, coordinator of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance [FR], [EN]
Pia Eberhardt, Corporate Europe Observatory [DE], [EN]
 Current members of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance are:
Afrika Kontakt (Denmark), Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (Germany), AITEC (France), Attac Austria, Attac Germany, Attac Spain, CNCD (Belgium), Colibri (Germany), Comhlamh (Ireland), Corporate Europe Observatory (Belgium), Ecologistas en Accion (Spain), European Milkboard, Fair Trade Advocacy Office (Belgium), Fairwatch (Italy), FDCL (Germany), FIAN Germany, Food & Water Europe, Germanwatch (Germany), Misereor (Germany), No Patents on Life! (Germany), Oxfam Germany, Philippinenbuero (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consument (Earth, Farmer, Consumer – Netherlands), Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe, PowerShift (Germany). Seattle to Brussels Network, SOMO (Netherlands), Terra Nuova (Italy), Trade Justice Movement (UK), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Vedegylet (Hungary), War on Want (UK), WEED (Germany), World Development Movement (UK), Za Zemiata (Bulgaria), 11.11.11. (Belgium)
Our supporter organisations: Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), Attac Denmark, CEE Bankwatch Network (headquatered in the Czech Republic), Dutch section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF – Netherlands), European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), FAIR TRADE HELLA (Greece), FIOM-CGIL (Metalworkers Federation – Italy), Glopolis (Czech Republic), Traidcraft (UK), Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP)
 Download the Alternative Trade Mandate at: http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/news/2013/11/the-atm-document-is-out/
 Download the issue specific papers on democracy, food & agriculture as well as investment at: http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/news/2013/05/atm-democracy-consultation-outcome-paper/
 For more information on the assembly and the “walk of resistance and alternatives” visit: http://www.alternativetrademandate.org
No backroom deals for the 1% ! Walk of Resistance and alternatives, 27th of Nov. in Brussels
Join us for a “walk of resistance and alternatives” through the EU quarter, demanding a paradigm shift in EU trade and investment policy on the morning of 27 November
As part of the launch of the “Alternative Trade Mandate”, activists and campaigners from all over Europe will organise a 2-hour “walk of resistance and alternatives” through the EU quarter. They will stop at hotspots of current EU trade policy-making with banners, posters and protest songs, while outlining an alternative vision of EU trade and investment policy that works for people and the planet.
A week before the global trade talks in the WTO in Bali
Wednesday, 27 November, 09:30 – 12:00
We will start in the centre of the Schuman Roundabout, between the European Commission’s Berlaymont building, the Council’s main building and the External Action Service, right at the Schuman metro station.
The walk will end in front of the European Parliament, in the middle of Place Luxembourg.
The current trading system isn’t working. Tons of food – often unsafe – gets thrown away while millions of people go hungry. Deregulated banks have brought the economic system to the brink of collapse. Very high demand for resources is destroying our planet whilst threatening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable in society.
EU trade policy has played a significant role in causing and exacerbating the current crises in our economy, food, energy and the environment. But the recent launch of the EU-US trade negotiations shows that the EU wants more of the same, namely destructive trade agreements which eliminate social and environmental safeguards in pursuit of corporate profit.
We’ve been told that this is the only way out of the crisis. But we don’t believe it.
We’ve been told that there is no alternative. But we know there is.
And we are developing it.
WHAT TO BRING?
Yourself. Your colleagues and friends. Your rage. Your messages, on banners, posters, stickers, your T-Shirt. Your songs. And warm clothes – it’s nearly December…
Join us for the Launch of the Alternative Trade Mandate campaign ! 26/27 November, Brussels
The ATM belief is that Europe’s trade has to be fundamentally changed. Our alternative respects human rights, and is democratically controlled by parliamentarians and the public. It’s ecological, respects gender equality and creates justice between countries, social classes and ethnicities. We propose a trade policy that increases economic, social and environmental well-being globally.
We are planning:
And don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com if you need further information on the event and its practical aspects !
See logistical information – maps, potential accomodation… – here : Logistical Information for ATM launch event 26-27nov2013
The G8′s bad news day
‘All trade is good. All investment is good’. Or so we are led to believe. The much anticipated announcement at the G8 summit yesterday of the launch of EU-US trade discussions seems to prove just how few critical voices remain in the mainstream media. Once a compromise had been reached to protect French culture from the ravages of Hollywood, there seemed to be almost no dissenting voices raised to question the claims of wealth and jobs that would be created through this deal, although the civil society network, Seattle to Brussels has made it’s opposition clear.
So is it really such good news?
Although it may sound like heresy, the answer is a resounding NO.
Trading helps tie people together, create bonds and facilitate the exchange of culture as well as goods. However, in recent decades, trade has expanded enormously and been transformed into an expression – and an instrument – of intensifying international political and economic competition.
Not coincidentally this period has also seen an ever increasing level of power by multinational corporations over the policy positions held by their home governments. As a result the interests of multinationals are now taken as equivalent to the interests of the majority of citizens in a country (at least in the minds of policy makers). And one thing we do know for sure is that these negotiations, as usual, will be held largely behind closed doors and follow a fundamentally undemocratic process. A recent ATM paper on trade policy and democracy in the EU outlines just how corrupted this process has become, and very recent research by the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), attempting to find out just who is setting the agenda for the EU-US deal, confirms that, so far, this particular negotiation has been about as murky as it gets. There are many reasons why this deal might be good for the global fat cats, and the politicians that they control, but not so great for the rest of us.
At the heart of the announcement were claims on how much additional wealth/growth would be generated by such a deal, £100bn for Europe, £80bn for US and, of course, hundreds of thousands of jobs. But it needs to be understood that the headline figures we are provided with are based on somewhat optimistic assumptions. The numbers quoted would be equivalent to a 0.5% GDP increase for the trading partners. But history shows these theoretical benefits are rarely realised and the reality could be closer to 0.1%. A far less eye catching number!
And of course growth in itself is only useful if it reaches those that need it. Global growth, without redistribution, is of very limited value, as persuasively argued by David Woodward in a recent series of blogs. Over half of world trade passes through the global tax haven system, a system which is deliberately constructed in such a way as to concentrate wealth, and increase inequality. A surge in trade, without fixing this system, could do more harm than good by increasing inequality at national and global levels while increasing our global ecological debt. And whatever comes out of the G8 discussions, nobody expects it to be more than a tentative first step towards getting to grips with tax avoidance.
Another critical point is that the underlying focus for these trade discussions will be ‘regulatory convergence’. In reality this is simply likely to mean an acceleration of the ‘race to the bottom’ in social and environmental standards. When we hear about all of the new jobs that will be ‘created’ through such a trade deal it is important to remind ourselves that the US has only ratified 2 of 8 ILO minimum labour standards conventions. Jobs are important, but this means quality as well as quantity, and there is little to reassure us that this will be the case. There are many other reasons to worry about ‘regulatory convergence’ All the recent work by civil society and members of the European Parliament to protect access to information and digital rights in Europe could be undermined, and the ability of European Countries to set their own policies on genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), or restrict the controversial use of ‘fracking’ will be severely compromised.
Finally – a point that is never acknowledged in G8 press releases- there will be losers in this deal. As well as workers in both the EU and the US, workers in countries not directly involved also stand to lose. The complexity of the world trading system means that it is almost impossible to understand the likely consequences in detail, but countries and regions such as Mexico, North Africa and the Philippines all have much to lose. As ever, the economic orthodoxy is that an overall increase is wealth is good for everyone. As ever, this is a fallacy of monumental proportions. One thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that the discussion and debates on trade are no longer about rich countries versus poor countries, but are increasingly about pitting the interests of global capital against the interests of citizens and workers everywhere.
So…these negotiations are likely to be:
- Based on fundamentally wrong assumptions,
- Follow the interests of global corporations rather than individual citizens
- Ignore the interests of poor countries and
- Conducted in a undemocratic and non-transparent manner.
So maybe not such good news after all!
And this is why simply trying to ‘tweak’ the negotiations to improve the outcome is just not good enough. A whole new approach is required and this is exactly why the Alternative Trade Mandate exists. We do not need to accept economic orthodoxy at face value. Another way of doing things is both possible and logical.