Flying largely under the radar, the first round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) took off July 8 through 12 in Washington, D.C. Although most Americans have barely heard of TTIP — if they’ve heard of it at all — this plan for economic and political merger of the United States and the European Union will assume ever greater urgency over the next year as the negotiation process concludes and we move closer and closer to a vote in Congress.
The divisive national debate over NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) a decade ago provides a preview of the tumult to come. But, as with NAFTA, before any national “debate” is allowed to occur on TTIP, its advocates want to be sure they have already built up an unstoppable momentum. This strategy succeeded with NAFTA, though barely; once the American public began to learn what was in the agreement, the Clinton White House and NAFTA proponents in Congress had to resort to all-out deception, bribery, and political arm-twisting and logrolling to push it through.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could face even stiffer opposition, once knowledge of it gets out. Thus, its proponents have been busy creating what will appear to be widespread consensus in favor of TTIP — by lining up (and buying up) support from Big Business, Big Labor, Big Banking, Big Green, and Big Media — before average Americans even learn that this transatlantic freight train is about to run over them.
The first public notice most of us got that the TTIP Express was headed our way was President Obama’s televised State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, in which he stated:
And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union — because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.
The following day, on February 13, President Obama followed through on this commitment, joining European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to announce the initiation of TTIP negotiations.
On June 17, at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Ireland, President Obama joined British Prime Minister David Cameron and Messrs. Barroso and Van Rompuy to again pitch the jobs-and-prosperity promise in a press conference to boost the TTIP.
Van Rompuy gave a hint as to the deeper nature of the proposed EU-U.S. partnership.
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