From Monbiot: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/04/a-global-ban-on-left-wing-politics/
November 4, 2013
That’s what the new rules being smuggled into trade agreements are delivering.
Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don’t either. Mind you, I spent ten minutes looking for my watch the other day, before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn’t there? After all that agonising over whether or not we should stay in the European Union(1), the government wouldn’t cede our sovereignty to some shadowy, undemocratic body without consulting us. Would it?
The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago(2). But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.
The mechanism is called investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet.
The Australian government, after massive debates in and out of parliament, decided that cigarettes should be sold in plain packets, marked only with shocking health warnings. The decision was validated by the Australian supreme court. But, using a trade agreement Australia struck with Hong Kong, the tobacco company Philip Morris has asked an offshore tribunal to award it a vast sum in compensation for the loss of what it calls its intellectual property(3).
During its financial crisis, and in response to public anger over rocketing charges, Argentina imposed a freeze on people’s energy and water bills (does this sound familiar?). It was sued by the international utility companies whose vast bills had prompted the government to act. For this and other such crimes, it has been forced to pay out over a billion dollars in compensation(4).
Continue reading at: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/04/a-global-ban-on-left-wing-politics/