Little else threatens democracy like secret courts and weak regulation of corporate power. That's why Andrew Smith MP and Anneliese Dodds MEP are raising issues of concern about the so-called 'free trade' agreement being negotiated by the United States and the European Union.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) aims to cut barriers to trade by removing differences in how the U.S. and the EU regulate businesses. Cutting barriers to trade can be a good thing, sustaining growth where protectionism can easily produce recession. However, the devil is in the detail, and there is a lot of detail to worry about in the proposed TTIP.
Andrew Smith MP said: "I share many of my constituents' concerns about what this agreement could mean in practice. As their MP, I stand up for their views in our Parliament, which should have the power to ensure matters as important as our health service and environmental protection are properly safeguarded, with disputes settled in open courts. Whilst fairer and more open trade is good, TTIP could allow for an unwelcome growth of corporate, over democratic power, with potentially grave damage to things we value like our National Health Service and action for cleaner air, and a sustainable environment. The negotiations on this need to be transparent, to respect democratic accountability and safeguard the public interest."
Anneliese Dodds MEP said: "While a free trade deal has big pluses such as more, better paying jobs inside Britain, we cannot conclude an agreement at any price. Along with my fellow Labour MEPs, I will not vote for a deal which looks to threaten our NHS or extend the reach of secret courts, which bypass governments and can threaten social and environmental legislation."