In recent years, a number of critical voices speaking up against the planned free trade agreement TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) has emerged. In many European countries, initiatives and organizations have been founded informing about risks of TTIP and other free trade agreements. The European Movement focusses on the discussion of risks which small and medium sized enterprises are likely to encounter once TTIP is ratified: SMEs are more vulnerable to competition from global corporations entering their markets.
Why do SMEs deal with TTIP & Co?
In the EU, only 150.000 companies export directly to the United States. This is less than 1% of the more than 20 million SMEs currently registered in Europe. The European Commission largely ignores the risks TTIP brings for SMEs in the domestic market. SMEs with focus on local and regional markets will, by all appearances, suffer from cheaper US-competition, potentially resulting in job loss in the EU.
Where I can find critical voices in business sector:
More and more, small and medium-sized enterprises were being cited in the debate as the ‘supposed beneficiaries’ of TTIP (EU Trade Commissioner Malmström has referred to the strong pro TTIP activities of the major German business associations). There is absolutely no balanced debate at the moment. So for example in recent studies on TTIP only export-oriented companies were surveyed (with predictable results). Austria was the first country, which initiated a working group called “KMU gegen TTIP” (“SMEs against TTIP”). If you want to support them, please don’t hesitate to contact them.
In the confrontation between promoters and opponents of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), it is difficult to hear the voice of the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). Yet because of their importance in European economy, smaller enterprises have some of the strongest reasons to be concerned. Ever since negotiations started, high-level European and American institutions and the largest employers’ organisations have been vocal about the supposed benefits of such an agreement for SMEs. This contrasts with the much more restrained position of SME representatives themselves.
In the current debate in TTIP, businesses are described as the “supposed beneficiaries” of the agreement (quote by EU Trade Commissioner Malmström when she referred to the strong pro TTIP activities of the major German business associations). However, the supposed benefits mainly apply for big corporations. SMEs predominately conduct trade in their national or the European market and rarely export, thus do not benefit from the removal of tariffs and trade barriers. Furthermore, economic growth resulting from TTIP is predicted to be only marginal.
While the civil society in the Netherlands has been active against TTIP for months, the protest of SMEs in the Netherlands against TTIP has just started. The initiative “Ondernemers van nu” (Engl. “Entrepreneurs of today”) is a collective of entrepreneurs who are concerned about TTIP and is now collecting signatures of Dutch enterprises against TTIP.
TTIP will force UK businesses into unfair competition with US firms with lower standards and lower costs, with the predicted loss of at least 680,000 jobs across Europe. TTIP risks undermining the social, health and environmental standards that we enjoy in Europe. US companies will be given a special private justice system where they can challenge any new laws affecting their profits. It is unfair to give US businesses a competitive advantage in their dealings with Europe. Equally, we do not want to reduce the social and environmental standards we hold dear. The overwhelming majority of British businesses do not export at all to the USA.