Transatlantic trade

TTIP or how to use crisis to impose a failed model in Europe

Transatlantic trade

par Alberto Zoratti, Monica Di Sisto

« Dear Obama, we will use the opportunity given by the Presidency of European Union that Italy will hold from July 2014 to boost liberalizations and privatizations proposed under the TTIP umbrella, as miraculous remedies to recover from our deep crisis ». Full stop. Twitter posh signature : gorgeous Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. This is the clear message given by Italian Government to US establishment during the recent Obama trip in Europe, and this is something that our country knows very well : how to use shock economy narrative to push corporate interest that are one of the worst determinant of the social, environmental, economic but also institutional crisis that is affecting Europe - and our country in particular - since years. A distorting but effective communication tactic that "the more social media friendly prime minister in Europe" wants to export to the rest of the continent. And that his predecessors, from Berlusconi to Monti, without any difference, they imposed without considering the social and environmental impacts that would have on the country.

The Italian paradigm

Italy presents itself to the rest of the world with the proud claim of « made in » since entering the Industrial age. Made in Italy means for collective imagination, attention to materials and production processes, beauty, multidimensional sustainability. In larger economic scale, Made in Italy present their organization in clusters of production as a unique model, with strong and positive contributions to the final quality of the products and services provided by the territories that used to identify themselves and their lifestyle with those processes and products, especially in the case of food, wine, fashion, furniture, but also of public and cultural services.

« Small is beautiful », biodiversity as oriented production, is the slogan brandished also

by large and very large national speculators who shades under this collective identity their private unsustainable practices and interests. Part of the well-known corporate Made in Italy build unjustifiable infrastructures and supply chains at home and around the world, produce, import and distribute dirty energy, do not recycle enough producing more waste than acceptable according with European standards and if we if we had not had closure closure of many factories and reducing of general consumption, we would have an emissions rate much higher than the limits that Europe has set as its goals. These are the comparative advantages that have enabled the majority of the top ten Italian exporters to take home more than 2/3 of the total national exports. And these are the only subjects, together with the stakeholders who interpret and represent their interests, to have something to gain from an agreement such as the TTIP. TTIP is not just about trade, but is the way they want to trade away our future and our lives.

The resistance is resilient

Social movements in Italy are fluid but biodiverse and resilient : emerged around Seattle, after the hard repression during Genova G8 in 2001, we struggled and succeeded to create networks, connections, campaigning work and massive and impressive actions that obtained concrete results as mass mobilizations for peace, the enforcement of the first European social forum in the framework of the global one, campaign for the diffusion of a solidary economy network fueled by critic consumer groups, campaigning against WTO, EPAs, against GMOs, climate change, privatizations of public services and – last but not least - the citizens’ initiative referendum got and won to affirm the right to water for all as public good. Today around 70 associations, grassroots groups, NGOs, trade unions, environmental, fair trade and consumer organizations, with the support of some parties, are struggling together to tell the truth about TTIP to Italian public opinion and to stop TTIP all together, in solidarity and tightest connection is possible with European and Us based movements and organizations.

A fragile but resistant social based and environmental friendly small-scale economy is a reality in Italy. Is the only options to work and eat for the excluded, the impoverished ones, but also for much of the former middle class in our country, despite the efforts made by our élite in those years to sacrifice it to corporate interests. Factories recovered by their workers and converted into sustainable social enterprises ; projects of farmers’ networks and markets in the country and in the city that support thousands of small producers ; organic farming that is conquering every year bigger surfaces and market share despite the crisis ; occupations and redevelopment of abandoned and degraded lands and spaces in the cities, which become places of production of goods but also of knowledge, of culture, of services for a new community based welfare : this is also Italy, and the Europe that we dream and struggle to practice on daily basis. A society where peoples, the environment and their rights are at the core of shared values, and the economy is a tool, not an end in itself. This is our Italy that TTIP threatens to bury under an avalanche of cheap but low-quality products, as well as a massive reduction of social, environmental, and labor rights that we had already seen dropping sharply with the excuse of the crisis thanks to austerity policies and relative cuts in public spending promoted since almost twenty years.

Say Stop TTIP for us is to say yes to these solidary, resistant, radical and fierce communities, women and men, who are fighting, as Alexander Langer, one of us, used to say, “lentius, profundius, suavius” that means, in one of our oldest but universal languages “more slowly, more deeply, more gently”.

Monica Di Sisto and Alberto Zoratti, Fairwatch / STOP TTIP campaign - Italy

 To know more about the italian coalition :
 Fairwatch analyses and reports on trade :

This op-ed has been translated in French here.