Does an independent Scotland really want to be a member of the EU? Well this seems certain, but whether it would automatically become a member remains a moot point. Opting out, or indeed losing membership however isn’t being widely discussed – except of course from the No camp, who themselves seem reluctant to dwell on the repercussions of the UK having an EU in/out referendum posed for 2017 for fear of looking like a herd of confused cattle amid a flooded field in Somerset.
But what generally seems to be the consensus is that the EU is a good thing from the citizens’ perspective: an open trading market, with free movement of persons and human rights protections, all devised to enhance member states’ domestic frameworks. The Tories, however, view the UK as a victim of state control, shackled by draconian EU policy that subverts real UK patriotism – of course repugnant to the ruling elites who live to implement deregulation and privatisation. But now it would seem this very argument is in fact dead in the water. For what a new trade agreement being discussed by the EU and the US shows is that there really is little difference between the two.
The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US has been in the pipeline since 2012, but you wouldn’t know it from the scarce media coverage it has attracted. It’s a deal that is being sold by conservative think-tanks and those involved as a partnership that will break down trade barriers, generate billions for the economies of all countries involved, ‘liberalise’ global trade, and create thousands of jobs. But what isn’t being mentioned is how the deal is set to be the biggest single opportunity to break down state regulation on a global scale and pave the way for yet more private power to be held by the world elite.
Mostly due to underreporting, the details of the agreement remain largely unknown – but its effects will undoubtedly be felt globally. To give you an idea, Dean Baker of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in the US commented in an article in the Guardian that the deal would focus on existing barriers such as “freeing up regulations on fracking, GMOs and finance, and tightening laws on copyright”. In other words, making life a whole lot easier for global corporations and financiers to increase revenues from stealing natural resources, whilst at the same time penalising and imprisoning activists such as Aaron Schwartz for breaching far-reaching and ever-expanding copyright laws. Oh, and did I mention that under a clause called National Sovereignty and Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), an investor can bring a case directly against the country where their investment lies, without the intervention of the government of the investor’s country of origin? The state therefore becomes obsolete as governments will no longer be able to protect its citizens or the environment.
What becomes apparent is that ‘regulation’ and ‘procedure’ are dirty words, viewed as obstacles to either be overcome or eradicated – and it is of course these very regulations and procedures that protect the people of the countries that will be forced to adhere to the TTIP. To achieve this, governments will be persuaded to change policy to suit the needs of the corporation (which is erroneously viewed by law as a person), with likely a little incentive to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. And with the UK already bedfellows with the US and many multinationals it is doubtful that Westminster will struggle to get that ball rolling if it means a further flow of cash to stash in offshore tax havens. They are already engaging in such activities if the recent fracking protests against Cuadrilla in Balkham are anything to go by.
You may think what you like about globalisation and the rise of universality – likely its positivities, but diversity undoubtedly makes things difficult for profit. Language barriers, cultural differences, social issues, and economic disparity all make for slowing the corporate juggernaut on its quest to extract and sell. And of course government structures, policies and protocols are a part of that. It would all be much easier if we were just all the same, with no pesky state infrastructure that was originally put in place to preserve things like civil rights and the environment. And this is likely why very few people have been consulted as to whether the TTIP should be implemented. Not dissimilar to UK changes in law pushed through parliament with little consultation, or the secrecy surrounding lobbying donations and financial sector activity – society is usually kept in the dark when it concerns issues that usually screw the ordinary people. Instead a celebrity sex scandal, or a juicy instance of political scapegoating is usually enough to opiate the masses, and distract from these key and incredibly important issues.
If this wasn’t the case – and I wish it wasn’t – then both David Cameron and Alex Salmond would be using every media outlet and photo opportunity available to them to highlight this issue of the misuse of centralised power by the EU to corral other countries into an agreement that none of their inhabitants voted for, and one that will likely destroy the environment, individual freedoms, and eventually democracy itself. But they’re not, and neither is anyone else in a position of power. This is because they can see the the potential for making billions of dollars at the expense of the ordinary people, and that is just business as usual – independent or not.