Fair Economy Alliance is a project of the Schöpflin Stiftung dedicated to promoting civic engagement on the question how free trade agreements need to be designed in order to deliver value for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular and society in general. The focus on SMEs stems from their importance to the economy: In 2014, SMEs accounted for 99.8% of all enterprises and provided 67% of employment in the non-financial sector on the EU28.
Fair Economy Alliance is an exchange of information on initiatives by or for SMEs about international free trade agreements under negotiation by the EU (CETA with Canada and TTIP with the US). They whish to show themselves and inform business, politics and media.
Some of these SME initiatives are coordinated through Fair Economy Alliance and engage in joint actions and information of politics and politicians. Each initiative is however fundamentally independent.
Fair Economy Alliance is a pluralist platform in the interest of progress: Attitudes amongst the SME initiatives to free trade agreements range from the desire to remodel them to fundamental opposition. Their alternative visions accordingly range from reformist to post-capitalist.
What the SME initiatives portrayed on this website have in common is the interest to protect the relatively high social and ecological standards in Europe and to work for a vibrant democracy. They also defend their own economic interests, since TTIP and CETA will, if anything, benefit only large and global companies while harming small and medium-sized enterprises.
Stop protecting and benefiting foreign investors
Investor arbitration tribunals such as the Investment Court System (ICS) currently in CETA (EU-Canada trade agreement) and considered for TTIP (EU-US trade agreement), the Multilateral Investment Court (MIC) and numerous Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), are supposed to protect foreign investors from legislative changes in the respective countries. Foreign investors have more protection than domestic investors this way, which is discriminatory. Furthermore: aren’t legislative changes exactly what the public interest needs to reach the environmental regeneration goals as set in the Paris Climate Agreement?
SMEs often depend on local markets and the distinctiveness and social connectivity of these make a vital contribution to our quality of life. In the course of market liberalisation, TTIP/CETA negotiators want to restrict ‘buy local’ movements and regulations. Especially businesses with sustainable production methods see themselves facing unfair competition.
Change the tax system
On top of various options multinationals already have to evade taxation, European governments are actively providing tax cuts to global companies, under the pretext of thousands of jobs flooding into the EU. Whereas SMEs are the backbone of the economy and provide up to 70% of all jobs in a country, and are facing unfair competition because they do have to pay the full amount of taxation. Tax benefits could only be justified for companies that contribute to the common interest in other ways, like the regeneration of ecosystems or the strengthening of social rights.