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.


  • Investor protection: International arbitration tribunals such as the Investment Court System (ICS) currently considered for TTIP are supposed to protect foreign investors from legislative changes in the respective countries. However, the expenses for such proceedings amount to around 8 million euros – SMEs cannot carry that kind of financial burden.
  • Regional value chains: 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 negotiators want to restrict ‘buy local’ movements and regulations. Especially businesses with sustainable production methods see themselves facing unfair competition.
  • The negative list: Unlike previous trade agreements of the EU, TTIP and CETA use the ‘negative list’: All service sectors will automatically be governed by TTIP and CETA rules, unless they are considered particularly sensitive and are explicitly excluded from the treaty. Following the principle ‘list it or lose it’, everything not rescued via the negative list will be put under pressure of privatisation – be it culture, education or public welfare services.