A metamorphosis is in progress, which aims to erode the principle of democracy and reduce nation-authority forever!
The idea to reduce the powers of democratically elected governments has been surreptitiously under planning for years. It goes as far back as the 1950’s when led by Deutsche Bank chairman Hermann Abs in collusion with other powerful bankers. They sought ways to reduce government intrusiveness into their affairs as well as boost profits but primarily to gain domination and safeguard corporate private interests. A secretive “international magna carta” was established as a blueprint and a stepping-stone to economic globalization! Global currency would be the next phase of a corporate supranational domination!
To achieve such a mindboggling ambition, it was necessary to weaken the powers of national governments. Ways and means were sought on how to manipulate parliaments and compel governments to legitimize corporate decisions in the interests of investors. In order for this phantasy (fantasy + phantom) to develop flesh and bones a legal framework was necessary before becoming a reality.
Hermann Abs’ aspiration of globalization was introduced on the recognition that no governments would turn their backs on foreign investments. Under a secretive banking cartel – a cartel that now controlled the money supply and interest rates – a search for a scheme had been followed, one that would pose no risk to investors! Abs’ brainwave provided the perfect answer to their quandary. It was a win-win situation and very simple: economic colonization through a maze of international but complicated Trade Agreements protected by International Investments Courts! Far-fetched or not, record show that such deviousness in the banking industry it does exist nevertheless!
In fact the European Union nightmare was created out of similar deceitfulness and on a string of binding trade-agreements that ultimately led to social, economic and political union without the consent of the people.
In 1955 Jean Omer Marie Monnet is considered the founding father and architect of European Union, and, just like Hermann Abs. he too dreamed of fusing nations together through trade agreements. It was as if those two men of the same era had a joint master plan up their sleeve! Today, unaccountable bureaucrats govern EU member-states; the unelected Commission dictates policies; the appointed European Central Bank controls fiscal policies and the European Court of Justice ensures compliance of EU laws. National parliaments have now become powerless and reduced to EU committee assemblies. So much for EU Democracy!
Trade-agreements and fair-trading is necessary and it can provide growth and stability but in a world driven by profit maximization unjust agreements can aggravate poverty for millions of people. Such unfair corporate practices are evident in poorer countries but also rich in minerals where multinationals exploit those recources under the terms of “fair trade” agreements. As an inducement to secure lucrative licenses, the lining of pockets to corrupt officials has been going on for years and continues to this day through powerful corporate lobbies.
Consequently, a global trade metamorphosis has finally been unveiled: the European Union and the United States have secretly been negotiating since 2013 – expected to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of 2015 – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is designed with one aim in mind: to transform global trading practice forever!
TTIP it’s a new trade treaty that would allow multinational corporations to sue governments, states or municipalities whose policies damage their financial interests. To succeed, a legal platform has been established; the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) of the World Bank with offices in New York and other major capitals.
ISDS is an instrument of public international law that grants an investor the right to use dispute-settlement proceedings against foreign governments as a result of a breach in the agreement. If for example, an investor from one country invests in another country and the “Host Country” violates the rights granted to the investor, that investor may bring the matter before an arbitration tribunal. This is a system of tribunals that awards compensation to foreign investors to be paid by the state and such a decision it’s final!
If the state fails to pay, its assets are subject to seizure in almost every country in the world by applying to the local courts for an enforcement order to seize the state’s assets.
So in fact a private corporation is given amazing powers over an entire nation. TTIP would in fact offer multinationals a financial bonanza not only to recover money already invested, but also for “alleged profits” and “expected future profits”.
Suing provides corporate investors the opportunity to make millions (if not billions) and it’s no wonder the number of suits filed against countries has reached over 500 and growing at an average rate of one case per week. The sums awarded in damages are so vast companies are using the threat of a lawsuit to blackmail governments.
The creation of TTIP and ISDS are meant to protect trade and boost the economies of EU and the US by removing or reducing barriers to attract foreign investment. President Obama stated that TTIP would promote “new growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic”. Germany is also a strong advocate of a TTIP Partnership Agreement.
Critics utterly reject those claims afraid it would undermine governments’ right to regulate in the public interest but would instead give corporations a disproportionate influence over regulation and the erosion of democracy.
Recently, more than three and a quarter million European citizens have signed a petition against TTIP and in Berlin a massive demonstration of over 250,000-strong protesters organized by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) took to the streets. Thousands of other meetings and protests were held across all 28 EU member states. They fear TTIP would undermine local regulation by giving unaccountable international arbitration panels the power to rule over national interests.
Meanwhile the EU Commission refuses to listen to the protests and continues its surreptitious TTIP negotiations behind closed doors without the involvement of EU member-state governments or the European Parliament. Negotiating committees from both side of the Atlantic meet secretly and in private to reach a final TTIP agreement. It’s prudent to say that those committees are profoundly influenced by an army of corporate lobbyists swarming Washington and Brussels to ensure decisions are in support of their corporate clients.
Without a doubt TTIP is a controversial issue that would affect millions of people and yet, no meaningful public consultation has been conducted except for a three-month on-line attempt that did not receive publicity across the 28-member states. In fact the public (and governments) are kept in the dark and not without good reason; they fear public outcry and opposition!
As the Greek and Cypriot people have found out, the EU would not tolerate reform or deviation from its austerity policy. Portugal’s president Anibal Cavaco Silva took that policy one step further. He used his constitutional privilege and refused to officially appoint a majority-elected coalition government with a mandate to drop the EU-IMF Troika’s austerity programme. His excuse or pretext was to “safeguard Portugal’s national interest”.
EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom – and the main driving force behind TTIP – shared similar dictatorial opinions. In a recent interview she announced: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.” If so, where does she get her mandate if not from the EU Parliament or the people?
In fact the EU has recognized that powerful corporate lobbyists are the main movers and shakers of EU policy-making. All considered, it’s quite likely that Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom receives her instructions from powerful TTIP lobby groups in the interest of multinationals on both sides of the Atlantic.
This new anti-democratic mechanism has also raised the eyebrows of officials at the United Nations. They called for the suspension of TTIP talks fearful that a system of unaccountable international courts used by major corporations would undermine human rights.
They are not wrong! At the present there are hundreds of cases brought against states by corporations claiming a horde of damages:
- Britain is considering plain packaging of cigarette products and it has been challenged by the cigarette industry for compensation that may run into billions of taxpayer money;
- Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for billions over its decision to increase the size of health warnings on cigarettes and for clamping down on the use of sub-brands, which give the impression that cigarettes are safe to smoke;
- Philip Morris closed its factory in Uruguay during a labour dispute leaving workers out of jobs by using blackmailing tactics to get its way;
- Vattenfall the Swedish energy giant filed suit in 2009 for 1.4bn-euros against the Federal Republic of Germany in the Moorburg case that refers to two massive coal chimneys spewing a steady stream of thick smoke into the sky.
- A year after the Moorburg case closed, Vattenfall files another case against Germany seeking 4.7bn from the taxpayer on its decision to phase out nuclear power.
- El Salvador is facing a multimillion-dollar suit lodged by a multinational mining company after the small country refused to allow it to dig for gold.
- Argentina was sued by the French conglomerate Vivendi after the province of Tucuman limited the price it charged people for water and wastewater services and was forced to pay 100m-dollars in compensation.
- Ecuador after cancelling an oil-exploration contract with Occidental Petroleum the company filed a suit before an international investment tribunal and was awarded 1.8bn-dollars in damages;
- Australia is currently facing a billion-dollar lawsuit filed by Philip Morris the tobacco conglomerate;
There are many other such cases anxious to protect their interests and also pilfer billions from governments at the expense taxpayers. If the 5,544-page TTIP (still at negotiating phase) were adopted, it would be the greatest global corporate coup d’état the world has ever seen controlled by banks and insurance companies, Monsanto and other supranational corporations. In fact they would be the masters of global law with the powers to render null and void national policies that do not suit their private interests.
A corporate enslavement of nations is about to take place and small countries such as Cyprus would be at the mercy of TTIP especially now which has discovered a vast amount of natural gas. Multinationals are sniffing for a piece of the pie and if not opposed TTIP would certainly entrap and exploit the country forever.
But the most important question of all demands an answer! Do those foreign multinational companies and bankers have the right to force governments to relax or change laws to suit them as opposed to those same companies complying with the laws of the land?
That question concerns all democratically elected governments and citizens alike!
Andreas C Chrysafis
November 8, 2015