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The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA or TTIP)

Title of the image

The official start of negotiations Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TTIA) or, as is more commonly known, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) -although it has also used the name Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)- occurred in June 2013, and since then there have been nine rounds of negotiations, the last of which took place in New York between 20 and 24 April, while the next will be in Brussels before the summer.

However, the origin of this treaty is not so recent, being traced to November 1990 with the "Transatlantic Declaration", in which summit meetings between the European Union and the United States were established to promote free trade, and from that time different projects, statements, ministerial meetings, and so on have been going on, which were heading towards the formal declaration announced on February 13, 2013 by US President Barack Obama, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, as the launching of activities to initiate negotiations for a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA).

We need to keep in mind this little historical introduction to help us understand the behaviour that participants in the negotiations have maintained throughout the process, as regards concealment of the most important aspects of the subjects that were to be dealt with, since until recently the public has not had in their hands the minimum data to assess and realise the impact that this treaty to exclusively protect transnational corporations will mean for their lives. In this regard, it is significant that long working papers, reports objectives and proposals were drafted and negotiated in secret, and not until a few months ago that these documents have been declassified, albeit with much lag from the time they were drafted, except for formal statements that were made public at the end of each round.

Persistent secrecy


Such was the degree of secrecy imposed, that in May 2014 it was rejected by House of Congress of Deputies, with the votes of PP, PSOE, CiU and UPyD, a motion on the draft TTIP that united the government to reject it, and to seek citizens' opinion on the content of the treaty and that in any case a referendum for ratification should be promoted. Then, on July 9, 2014 the Secretary of State for Trade, Mr García-Legaz, informed the Commission of Economy and Competitiveness on the development of the rounds of negotiations, noting among other things that the negotiation was being carried out by the European Commission within the framework of "politics attributed by the European treaties exclusively to the European Commission, so that the role of Member States is limited", adding that "only through TTIP we can the values we share prevail: the the rule of law, respect for legality, economic openness and at the same time, consumer protection and labour rights."

As for the actual content of the treaty, his criticism was not limited to merely drawing attention to the protection of the rights of people and citizens of the European Union, as consumers or workers, but also that the consequences that can result from it must be analyzed together at all levels, a task that far exceed the content of this contribution. But not for this will we obviate brief and specific remarks.

First, with the declared objective of the treaty "to eliminate trade barriers between the United States and the European Union (remove tariffs, unnecessary regulations, restrictions on investment, etc.) and simplify the purchase of goods and services between these two spaces", its regular enactment necessarily involves, among others, issues related to the technical standards of products on the market, the absence of sanctions against abuses in order to preserve "sustainable development", the privatisation of public services or loss of confidentiality of personal data.

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