A petition signed by three million people against the EU-US trade deal will be handed to the European Commission on Wednesday (7 October).
Campaigners called on EU leaders to scrap the deal altogether, becuase, they say, it undermines democratic rights and puts the interests of big business before citizens.
“The 3 million signatures collected for this petition shows that the people of Europe stand firmly against these corporate driven trade deals. The people of Europe have spoken, the politicians must no longer turn their backs on their constituents,” said John Hilary, a member of the Stop TTIP citizens’ committee and executive director of War on Want.
GMOs, excessive rights for investors, dirty energy and chlorine chicken are just some of the threats that campaigners believe the agreement poses.
The initiative, which was launched a year ago, calls on the EU institutions and member states to stop negotiations with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.
Activist Susan George said more than 500 organisations have been part of the Stop TTIP European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).
“In one year alone we united three times as many people than needed for an ECI to be successful according to EU rules,” George said.
The petition was initially launched as European Citizens’ Initiative, an EU petition procedure. Under the procedure, the collection of a million signatures from seven separate member countries acts as a demand on the Commission to act. But the EU executive rejected the proposal, a move which is now being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.
This great success shows how strong opposition to TTIP and CETA has grown throughout Europe. If there is just a grain of truth to the promises for transparency and citizen consultation, the EU institutions must organise a hearing in Parliament and the Commission must take action to stop the treaties,” George said.
Trade policy expert of the left GUE/NGL Group in the European Parliament, MEP Helmut Scholz, hailed the results.
“It is extremely significant that European civil society has developed such an outstanding initiative that has gained the support of more than 3 million people,” he said, urging the Commission to fully respect the will expressed by a record number of Europeans.
Negotiations between the US and the EU on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) began in July 2013.
Since the formation of a new, more Eurosceptic Parliament, opposition to the free-market agreement has become more intense.
If the treaty is signed, it will affect almost 40% of world GDP. The transatlantic market is already the most important in the world, accounting for €2 billion of goods and services per year.
If successful, the deal could save companies millions of euro and create thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The average European household could save €545 per year and European GDP could increase by nearly 0.5%.
Brussels and Washington want to conclude the ambitious negotiations and seal the deal by early next year.