“The TTIP, in fact, does not exist, because we are still working on it”. This is how the European Commission’s head of communications in Barcelona, Mark Jeffery, began his presentation in Terrassa on a debate on the free trade agreement negotiated by the European Union and the United States since 2013. The event was organized by the Terrassa City Council through the services of European Relations and Economic Development, collecting a motion for a resolution submitted to plenary by the municipal groups TeC, ERC-MES and CUP so that citizens have more elements to understand such a complicated subject. The Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Industry and Employment, Miquel Sàmper stressed the need to “explain the current state of the issue and its possible future development”.
The Vapor Universitari hosted the conference-debate, which served to put on the table points for and against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Jeffery defended that “without exports the crisis would be even worse. If we are coming out of the crisis it is because we export”. He also said that 30 million jobs in the European Union depend on this international trade. According to Jeffery, of English origin but settled in Catalonia for years, “we must respect the differences but promote the trade” and explained that the efforts in the negotiations are to improve issues such as sustainability (with environmental standards that are collecting), protecting investments or avoiding unfair competition. For this reason, he believes that some bureaucratic and direct obstacles must be eliminated, but “maintaining quality standards”.
A second part of the act was the debate that was established between the attendees and Jeffery. One of the doubts that emerged in the conversation was the lack of transparency in the process, especially from the United States, and the risk that multinationals will benefit more than SMEs at all. Jeffery pointed out that small companies will also be able to benefit from the TTIP, because “they will know where to find the tenders”, in addition to indicating that “in the USA there is also a strong presence of SMEs, so they are also interested in having a specific capital for their participation “.
Jeffery explained that, about the TTIP, “in the end, it will be a political decision”, but he put on the table what he believes are the alternatives: The first, “do nothing”, but he believes that there will continue to be obstacles “as tariffs, bureaucracy and barriers to new regulations,” while in many areas of the world “there are already bilateral agreements that make us less competitive from Europe.” The second is to maintain 28 national trade policies (one for each Member State), but detailed that, in fact, the European Commission can make proposals which, in the end, must be democratically endorsed by 28. Other alternatives would be a European trade policy and even a world one.
The Deputy Mayor for Culture, Innovation and Projection of the City, Amadeu Aguado, closed the act indicating the need to have forums like this to “give an overview of the current state of the treaty, being negotiated for four years and with an end is still uncertain “. Aguado explained that, as a municipal group, the PSC “is against TTIP”, although he also pointed out that some of the doubts generated at the beginning are indeed being debated and incorporated into the negotiations, as the possibility that SMEs can remain competitive. The Deputy Mayor explained issues that still need to be improved, such as those relating to current intelligent ownership, the circulation of GMOs or the opening up of public sectors to private companies.
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