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25/09/2016

Biggest anti-TTIP rally to hit Berlin

Trade & Society

Biggest anti-TTIP rally to hit Berlin

Anti-trade deals demonstration flyer. Berlin, October 2015.

[Joel Schalit/Flickr]

Once again, anti-TTIP and CETA demonstrators will take to the streets of Berlin tomorrow (10 October). EurActiv Germany reports.

This evening (9 October), more than 600 special buses and five trains will shuttle protestors from every corner of Germany into the capital.

The demonstration’s organiser, Uwe Hiksch, is hoping “significantly more than 50,000 participants” will take part in the “Stop TTIP and CETA!” rally against the planned free trade agreements (FTA) with the USA and Canada. If everything goes to plan, then the same amount of Berliners will join the protestors, if the weather doesn’t put them off.

The biggest anti-TTIP and CETA demo to date was attended by between 30,000 and 40,000 people, according to the organisers. These huge numbers are most likely down to the fact that Hiksch and his association, Friends of Nature, are one of the movement’s many organisers.

>>Read our LinksDossier: TTIP for dummies

The alliance includes the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband (an association of social movements) and the German Cultural Council, as well as environmental organisations like WWF and Greenpeace.

The Greens and the left also support the demonstration, which is, “an alliance, the likes of which has not been seen before in Germany”, said Ernst-Christoph Stolper of the environmental organisation BUND.

There are certainly differences of opinion among the protestors, for example, the DGB only oppose TTIP in its current state, while ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Citizen’s Action) is against the very concept of the plan and global capitalism itself.

>>Read: Did the Commission censor Big Tobacco documents because of TTIP?

“The negotiations are going in completely the wrong direction. This is the uniting factor between us,” said ATTAC activist Roland Süß, in regard to the mostly confidential and secretive talks being held between the European Commission and the United States government.

The lack of transparency is one of the factors that TTIP’s critics attack the most. After many years of negotiations, the basis of the agreement is still vague and concerns over social, environmental and consumer standards have increased, rather than subsided.

The fact that the controversial arbitration tribunals are still on the table has angered many of the FTA’s critics.

>>Read: Positive effects of TTIP tribunals for investment unclear

Within one year, more than 3.2 million people have signed a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) against TTIP and CETA. The ECI organisers will be able to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament and the Commission will also be obligated to furnish a response.

In more than 23 countries, the minimum number of required signatories has been reached, as laid down by EU regulations. Seven countries would have been sufficient, highlighting the Europe-wide opposition on this issue. Germany is the real heartland of the movement and around half of the ECI signatories are German citizens.

At midday tomorrow (10 October), protestors will congregate outside the capital’s main train station and then march toward Berlin’s Victory Column, where the main rally will take place. Hicksch promised a “colourful and cheerful” demonstration, with music provided by one of Berlin’s best known electro-clubs, “Bachstelzen”.

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The Cologne-based action group Pappnasen will be in attendance and hundreds of couples will line the route of the march, “Tangoing against TTIP.”

However, it is not just the FTA’s detractors who will be in Berlin this weekend. The Federation of German Industry has funded a pro-TTIP campaign. Vans decorated with pro-TTIP slogans have been driving around the capital for several days now.

Süß, of ATTAC, is sure that this interference by the industry will convince even more people to join the anti-TTIP movement, regardless of if the weather is good or bad.

Background

Negotiations between the United States and the European Union to forge an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) started in July 2013.

If successful, the deal would cover more than 40% of global GDP and account for large shares of world trade and foreign direct investment.

The EU-US trade relationship is already the biggest in the world. Traded goods and services between the two partners are worth €2 billion daily.

Brussels and Washington have set an ambitious goal of completing negotiations by the end of 2015.

Pacific trade ministers recently reached a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move that is predicted to reinvigorate TTIP negotiations.

Further Reading