TIPP/TAFTA panel discussion in Constance a success
Attac’s panel discussion on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), held at the Hochschule Konstanz Technik, Wirtschaft und Gestaltung (HTWG), attracted much interest and informed a critical audience about the trade deal.
On the 21st of March, a panel of distinguished speakers discussed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in front of an audience of approximately 180 people. The panel included Jürgen Maier, managing director of the NGO Umwelt und Entwicklung, Evelyne Gebhardt, member of the European Parliament, and Jessica Kulitz, entrepreneur and CDU-city councilor in Ulm. Dr. Ruth Steinke, sustainability advisor at the HTWG, and Eberhard Koch, Chairman of the BUND district association, moderated the panel discussion.
During the event, Jürgen Maier positioned himself against the free trade deal because he believes that the proposed harmonization of standards would weaken standards on both sides of the Atlantic. Furthermore, he criticized the planned expansion of the investor-state dispute settlement procedure and the fact that the negotiations are being held in secret.
On the other hand, Jessica Kulitz believes that it is still too early for any assessment to be made and that the debate is emotionally loaded. In her view, small- and medium-scale business will benefit the most because the free trade deal would reduce red tape and open the market. Moreover, the agreement would establish a community of values with the United States, which Europe desperately needs if it wants to keep up with emerging countries such as India and China.
Evelyne Gebhardt is against an investment protection treaty and condemned that the negotiating papers are being kept under wraps. She claims that the harmonization of individual standards and the lowering of tariffs would be sufficient for both sides to achieve and maintain the economically most favorable conditions available on the market.
The audience, which included members of several NGO’s including Attac, Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL), BUND district association Constance, DGB, Evangelische Studentengemeinde (ESG), Gemeinwohlökonomie, Global Marshall Plan Regional Group Lake Constance, HTWG, Mehr Demokratie e.V., Netzwerk Zukunft Wirtschaft, and the Junior Chamber, engaged in a critical, yet constructive, discussion with the panelists for the last 30 minutes of the event. Jürgen Maier encouraged the audience to spread awareness of the TTIP among the general public; to write to their political representatives; and to partake in public demonstrations. For instance, there will be a public demonstration against fracking, genetic engineering and the TTIP on May 8th in Constance.