Italy's militant trade union centre, the General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), drew tens of thousands onto the streets of Rome on May 7 to denounce the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the EU and the US.
Demonstrators gathered in San Giovanni Square held up anti-TTIP banners reading: “American chicken stuffed with hormones on our tables? Stop TTIP.” Other posters proclaimed: “People before profits” and “Free circulation? For people not capital,” while chanting slogans denouncing the treaty.
Anti-TTIP protesters are convinced the pact will lead to a deterioration in agricultural practices, as well as damaging the quality of work and services. “First, because it accelerates privatisation and, second, because big corporations will rule over European governments,” demonstrator Loretta Boni explained.
Some other signs held up by protesters warned: “Nato and TTIP chain us up to wars! No TTIP! No Nato!”
The trade deal has been strongly opposed by millions of Europeans, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets in Germany, Belgium, Britain and Spain. In Germany, the most recent opinion poll conducted by broadcaster ARD revealed that 70% oppose the TTIP trade treaty.
This constitutes a massive fall in support compared to 2014, when a similar poll found just 55% of Germans viewed the deal negatively.
Supporters of the agreement say that TTIP will create the world's largest free-trade zone, bringing a more integrated marketplace and benefiting small businesses by opening up markets and making customs processes easier. They also argue that it would cut trade tariffs on products.
Critics, however, say that TTIP would place corporate interests above those of nations and workers. They point out international corporations would be given power at the expense of small and medium-sized businesses.
TTIP opponents have also taken an especially critical stance against genetically modified (GM) crops, as the deal could allow US companies to bypass EU regulations and sell GM products in Europe. The secrecy surrounding the talks has also drawn strong condemnation.
Greenpeace Netherlands published leaked documents on May 3, suggesting that climate protection, jobs, food safety and online privacy rights will be whittled away under the deal.
[Reposted from Morning Star Online.]