According to over 50 civil society organisations across Europe it is. Groups across the continent have launched the Alternative Trade Mandate pledge campaign.
They are calling on European Parliament election candidates to make EU trade policy serve people and the planet, not just the profit of a few large corporations.
In Ireland, Comhlámh are taking the lead on this campaign in the run up to the European elections in May.
Mark Cumming, Head of Comhlámh said:
“The current EU trade policy is a recipe for disaster for people around the world. The EU is leading an aggressive agenda to open markets for global agri-business. This is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda.”
MEP candidates are being asked to support measures that enable people to control their own local food systems as well as core labour standards and human rights’ assessments of EU trade policy. Candidates are also being asked to call on the European Commission to immediately publish all texts from trade and investment negotiations with third countries such as, for example, the United States.
Eamon Murphy, Comhlámh Trade Justice Group convenor said:
“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. People who are affected by these deals, both in the EU and abroad, are not consulted. We need MEPs to stand up for an open and democratic EU trade policy-making process which is controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than technocrats and corporate lobby groups.”
Mark Cumming, Head of Comhlámh continued:
“The new investor-state agenda in the current EU-US trade negotiations is particularly disturbing; the fact that American companies could sue European governments because of social and environmental laws that protect their citizens is almost Orwellian. And yet this is already happening, this agenda is being pushed behind closed doors in the negotiations.”
The pledge campaign is the result of a four-year process of public workshops held all over Europe during which the Alternative Trade Mandate was developed. It is a 20-page civil society proposal to democratise EU trade and investment policy and put environmental protection as well as human and labour rights at its heart.
Eamon Murphy, Comhlámh Trade Justice Group convener said:
“At a time of multiple global crises, the European Parliament needs MEPs who will support trade rules that work for people and the planet. We need MEPs who will bring trade deals out of the shadows and into the light. We call on MEP candidates to stand up for democratic trade rules that serve people, the economy and the environment at large – not just the profit interests of a few. The Comhlámh Trade Justice group are currently organising actions all over the country and we are looking for people to get on board to lobby their MEP candidates.”
As well as the Irish campaign, members of the Alternative Trade Mandate alliance across Europe will meet with MEPs and political groups in the European Parliament in Brussels today to gather their support for the pledge campaign. At the margins of the EU-Africa Summit, campaigners will also participate in a morning protest against the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) – the controversial trade deals with countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.