TTIP in disarray as US Senate rejects fast track

photo: Campact via (CC BY-NC 2.0)
photo: Campact via (CC BY-NC 2.0)

TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – has been dealt a hammer blow by a vote yesterday in the US Senate on another similar trade agreement. TPP – the Trans Pacific Partnership – was curtailed as Democrats in the Senate voted against US president Obama’s plans to grant fast track authority for the legislation. The Trade Promotion Authority  (TPA, or fast track) bill fell short of the 60-vote hurdle, failing 52-45. Had it passed, both trade agreements could have proceeded without amendments.

This has implications for TTIP because, as Karen Hansen Khun of Arc2020 sister organisation IATP told us twitter late last night “While most of the attention is on TPP, Fast Track applies to TTIP too! Includes a big focus on ISDS.”

Karen TTIP

This Senate vote then, places a serious hurdle in the way of TTIP. Fast track was to be used in both TPP and TTIP: its rejection seriously hinders the progress of TTIP.

According to Alexander Bolton writing in The Hill yesterday “The legislation faces even stronger opposition from Democrats in the House, and the surprise Senate failure could signal the beginning of the end for one of Obama’s top priorities.”

Likewise, the Guardian  adds “it is seen as highly unlikely that international diplomats can complete either of the two giant trade deals currently in negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Obama had formed a bipartisan alliance with Republicans on the issue, but underestimated opposition within the Democrats, spurred on by powerful campaigning by labour unions and the NGO/CSO sector in the US.

TPP is the Pacific rim version of TTIP, covering eleven countries from Vietnam to Australia but excluding China, who are negotiating a separate deal expected to conclude in 20205.

But is the legislation scuppered or just stymied? According to the New York Times, the vote “presented Mr. Obama what might be a no-win situation. He may have to accept trade enforcement provisions he does not want in order to propel the trade legislation through the Senate, but those same provisions might doom the Pacific trade negotiations that legislation is supposed to lift.”

All told, both TPP and TTIP have been severely curtailed by this vote. Importantly this shows how politicians can be swayed on both TPP and TTIP: in the US, there had been consensus at an earlier stage in the finance Committee.

And as Doru Frantescu wrote in Euractiv, a similar process has happened in Europe too. Writing on the likely TTIP voting patterns in the European Parliament for the June Plenary: “the balance of power may still change before the end of the negotiations and the ratification by the EP, if the ‘against’ camp becomes more successful in convincing and mobilising the public opinion, exactly as it happened in the case of ACTA (who initially had the support of a narrow majority in the EP, but in the end the tide turned overwhelmingly against it).”

It seems more likely now, following this Senate vote on TPP, that MEPs will start to take far more seriously the undeniable civil society momentum to scupper TTIP.

All Arc2020 articles in TTIP


About Oliver Moore 208 Articles

Dr. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC.

A propos d'Oliver Moore
Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activité professionnelle. Il peut néanmoins admirer par la fenêtre de son bureau les mésanges charbonnières et les corbeaux perchés au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cœur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisés, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant à la communauté. Les jours où il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sèches et les jardins familiaux. 

Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant également des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »). 

Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne également des cours sur le Master en coopératives, agroalimentaire et développement durable à l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large.

Il consacre la majorité de son temps de travail à l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date à laquelle l’Irlande a assuré la présidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est là qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grâce à sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. Après six mois, il est nommé rédacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des médias sociaux, aide à définir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois même rédige un article pour le site web. 

À l’époque où on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, où il a aidé des ONG irlandaises de commerce équitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – à raconter leur histoire.

Il se peut que ces jours-là reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de préférer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. Après tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilités de bénévolat dans la communauté dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.