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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: The TPP’s Corporate-Friendly European Counterpart

While the United States Trade Representative has been finishing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that covers Pacific Rim economies, it has also been working on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a new trade pact with the European Union. Both agreements are favorable to corporations, but while increasing awareness of the TPP has generated public backlash, work on the TTIP has gone more under the radar. On December 16, negotiators met in Washington for the third round of TTIP talks, against a fragile backdrop of both a mini-rebellion in Congress against fast-tracking the TPP, and continuing revelations of U.S. spying habits worldwide.

Advocates of the TIPP argue that the goal of the agreement is what they call “regulatory harmonization,” echoing similar calls from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The idea is to standardize U.S. and European regulations on a variety of matters including finance, the environment, labor, and online data protection. Critics worry the final agreement could result in the most lax, corporate-friendly regulations for all countries involved. One potential provision is the EU’s desire for a “Regulatory Cooperation Council” that would be tasked with evaluating existing regulations and coordinating future rules. Another potential provision is the so-called “investor-state dispute settlement,” which would allow corporations to sue governments without being bound by domestic laws.

The agreement remains largely a secret, and the USTR’s Dan Mullaney has expressed the belief that negotiators need private space to negotiate in the national interest. A session of “stakeholder presentations” were held at George Washington University to provide negotiators with outside feedback, but on both sides of the Atlantic the stakeholders were overwhelmingly representative of business interests. The TTIP’s future is still uncertain, and will likely depend on the actions of Congress.


Cole Stangler, “The Next Corporate-Friendly Trade Pact,” In These Times, December 30, 2013,

Student Researcher: Noah Tenney (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)

  • margaret beresford February 28, 2014

    It is in no way acceptable or Constitutional to allow trade agreements to undermine the grounds of contract law, our systems were founded on. Democracy cannot be put out to find the highest bidder with profits more based on taxpayers funding than profit earned by business acumen. If trade agreements are now placed above all the laws and regulations our courts are empowered to act on, then there is no longer any basis for adhering to the rule of law, by which any can be applied. If laws of any country can be now ignored or overruled then there is no longer a foundation for the existing justice systems. Just like many corrupt countries that deem to have the right to pick and choose when and if their constitutional laws apply or not, these trade agreements act in the same way to corrupt and dismantle the sovereignty and basis for any rights of their citizens. Why bother having elections, what is left in law to support the duties being carried out by any elected official? None of the foreign corporations were or are part of the legal or elective process demanded by any of these countries Constitutions, or have recognized rights as citizens to vote or demand taxpayers monies for profits or any other claims. In the same vein, none of the signatory(s) to this agreements have authority to have legal standing that enforces these secret signatures. This is why they had to be done in absolute secrecy, with only the corporations expected to benefit disproportionally, to every citizen and domestic business without exception.

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