Activists to protest against TTIP trade deal
Activists are taking to the streets on Saturday across Austria to protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a free trade deal being negotiated between the US and EU countries.
A huge alliance of groups have come together to organise a global day of action, in what is expected to be one of the biggest protests against the trade deal.
Known as TTIP, the deal aims to cut tariffs and regulatory barriers to trade between the US and EU countries, making it easier for companies on both sides of the Atlantic to access each other's markets.
Industries it would affect include pharmaceuticals, cars, energy, finance, chemicals, clothing and food and drink.
There has been a lot of opposition to the deal in Austria, with critics saying it would have an impact on food standards, arguing that the EU has much stricter regulations on GM crops, pesticide use and food additives than the US.
Heidemarie Porstner from environmental group Global 2000 told The Local that TTIP would open the Austrian market to cheaper products with poorer standards, and make it harder for small farmers to survive.
She also warned that large multinational corporations could use TTIP’s ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ to bully foreign governments into dropping legislation to improve food standards, and sue over claims of unfair treatment.
The EU's trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström is taking the lead in trade talks. She visited Vienna in January and gave a speech about why she believes TTIP would be good for Austria.
She said that nowhere else in Europe is TTIP more hotly debated than in Austria, but said that “TTIP will be good for the people of Austria… for three reasons: It will help boost the economy. It will help us provide better public services and stronger regulation. And it will help secure Europe's place in a changing world.”
She added that almost one in five people working in Austria owes their job to exports outside the European Union, and that TTIP would create new business opportunities for small and large Austrian companies.
The European Union and US began official talks nearly two years ago over creating the world’s biggest trade zone.
The ninth round of negotiations are set to get underway in New York on April 20th
More information about the various protest events taking place across Austria on Saturday here: https://www.ttip-stoppen.at/