Will Europe’s SMEs be sacrificed on the altar of the Transantlantic Partnership?
In five reasons, the article points out why TTIP should be regarded with criticism when it comes to SMEs: Beside the very uncertain Macroeconomic Effects of just 0.05% increased growth per year (in the most optimistic studies), the authors point out the small amount of SMEs that would actually profit from it – the 0.7% of European SMEs already exporting to the US. After in their third argument pointing out to the few and insecure studies regarding effects on SMEs, the article criticizes the accumulation of political relevance by the Multinationals in the process:
“European institutions consult large corporations – American corporations in particular – more than they do other companies. So it is no surprise that several measures in the draft deal – measures from which SMEs, in the opinion of several SME associations, will remain largely excluded – could lead to multinationals having an even greater say when it comes to defining public policy. Regulatory cooperation and the dispute settlement mechanism will in effect allow the largest investors to be part of the drafting of future laws and to sue individual states, should a particular public policy conflict with their interests.
It is by no means clear that the interests of SMEs are the same as those of large corporations – even though the latter often claim to speak on behalf of the entire private sector. This is a notion echoed by Martina Römmelt-Fella, managing director of a German engineering SME. ‘We are aware of the huge risks that TTIP poses to the considerable progress we have made on social issues,’ she says. ‘TTIP will allow large multinationals to exert their influence on existing environmental, health and social protection laws.’
At the same time the lack of debate about the rules on social, fiscal and environmental responsibility threatens further to increase unfair competition between, on the one hand, large corporations that have the capacity to locate each of their activities in what for them is the most economically advantageous parts of the world – in other words where labour costs are cheapest; and, on the other hand, SMEs that have to abide by more stringent national regulations. Ernst Gugler, director of an Austrian company in the printing sector, believes there is also a further rift between SMEs and large corporates.“
Finally, the general pro-freetrade-position of TTIP-opposing SMEs is explained:
“For some months now SMEs from several European countries – either individually or collectively – have been expressing growing alarm at the secretive nature of the negotiations; and at the threats that TTIP could pose both to their activities and to the European economic, social and environmental models. SME associations – such as UCM in Belgium (the association which promotes independents in Wallonia and Brussels); and BVMW, the main German association for small and medium-sized enterprises with 270,000 members – have openly criticized several sections of the treaty, particularly those on the mechanism for dispute settlement; regulatory cooperation; those that threaten to weaken standards (particularly relating to food); and the abandoning of the precautionary principle.
It is not the project itself but the form it has taken that concerns Philippe Godfroid, president of Belgium’s UCM. ‘We do not want protectionism,’ he says, ‘nor do we want to take a step backwards (…). We believe that Europe and the United States should become economic partners, but that involves maintaining certain ground rules. Under the present circumstances, a single market with the US risks turning our country into a United States economic colony.’
Austrian and German companies have also launched an appeal – which currently has 3,300 supporters – calling for the negotiations to be halted.”
Alterecoplus, France, 30.10.2015: “Will Europe’s SMEs be sacrificed on the altar of the Transantlantic Partnership?”