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A million signatures for Juncker’s 60th birthday

Greens will join representatives of civil society from across Europe today to present EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker with a very large 60th birthday present – a million strong petition against the controversial TTIP trade treaty.

Greens have been at the forefront of a campaign against the proposed US-EU trade deal, saying it threatens environmental and social standards and would potentially allow corporations to sue governments over laws and regulations that affect their profits. Concerns over the contentious deal have prompted a massive Europe-wide campaign with thousands of citizens signing petitions, organising street demonstrations, and attending public meetings.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East said:

"TTIP negotiators cannot continue to ignore public opinion. If the deal goes ahead, foreign investors will be able to sue governments using secret courts if their profits are threatened by national laws. That means we’d be a step clos­er to corporations writing laws instead of Governments. The public don’t want this as shown very clearly by the one million people who signed the petition".

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London said:

"Public pressure has already brought more transparency to the process and increased pressure not to include the controversial private tribunal system to settle company claims against governments. It is crucially important that the spotlight stays on this Agreement."

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West has signed a letter to the new Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström [1], requesting she reconsider the decision taken by the previous Commission to reject TTIP as a suitable subject for a Citizens Initiative [2]. She said:

"I am deeply concerned about the increasingly unaccountable power of multinational corporations in European societies as well as within the EU institutions themselves. A million citizens from Europe are demanding that their voices be heard; we urge the Commission to listen."

Notes

[1] Letter to Trade Commisioner Cecilia Malmström:

Dear Commissioner Malmström,

Today, representatives of civil society from across the European Union will be presenting President Juncker with a petition signed by more than a million European citizens raising serious objections to the ongoing negotiations over the TTIP trade treaty. While the day is chosen to mark Mr Juncker's 60th birthday the gift clearly has serious as well as humorous implications.

We appreciate the fact that since taking over as Trade Commissioner you have focused on increasing the transparency around TTIP and what is being negotiated in our names and the names of our constituents. However, as people know more about the negative consequences of the treaty - whether in terms of the threats to democracy from ISDS or the threats to environmental and social standards - the less they like what they see.

As Greens we are keen Europeans and yet we see the increasing and unaccountable power of multinational corporations in European societies as well as within the EU institutions themselves as a significant threat to the future of EU, as citizens lose confidence that we are all working in their best interests. The large increase in votes for anti-European populist parties is evidence of this trend and we believe that the negotiation of a trade treaty behind closed doors and with such a high level of corporate lobbying is undermining our attempts to argue for the UK's continuing membership of the European Union.

We have been astonished that a highly technical treaty on an issue that has rarely received media attention has become a massive nationwide campaign with thousands of citizens signing petitions, organising street demonstrations, and attending public meetings across the UK. We have all been overwhelmed by emails from irate constituents who are enraged by what EU negotiators are doing. This is an issue where the public are insisting on their voices being heard.

The petition that will be presented today demands that a European Citizens Initiative is launched relating to TTIP. We ask you to reconsider the decision taken by the previous Commission to reject TTIP as a suitable subject for such an Initiative. The citizens of Europe are demanding that their voices be heard and we ask you to listen.

[2] A European citizens' initiative is an invitation to the European Commission to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate. A citizens' initiative has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 28 member states. Details: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/basic-facts

Molly Scott Cato is the first elected Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar and is one of 50 Green/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. She sits on the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee. 

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