German SMEs protest against EU-US TTIP trade/ investments talks
Resumption of trade and investment talks between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) prompted a protest against the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement with representatives of German SMEs (small and medium size businesses) joining thousands of other protesters in Brussels Monday.
Deutsche Welle, the German external broadcaster, reports that last year Martina Römmelt-Fella head of Fella Maschinenbau, a small engineering company based in Amorbach in rural northern Bavaria that employs 58 people that specialises in tailor-made hydroelectric turbines, and others launched "SME against TTIP", an initiative that has since grown to 2,100 supporters, all of them entrepreneurs and small companies opposing the trade deal.
DW says Römmelt-Fella points to one of the most controversial elements, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism — private tribunals that is which are to settle disputes between investors and the state.
"The average cost of litigation in these courts is about €8m. Small companies usually cannot afford that," she said.
When it comes to norms and regulations, said Römmelt-Fella, the trade agreement would make business more complicated, not less. European companies go by ISO standards and the CE label, which proves a product's conformity with European standards.
In the US, there are 18 different certifiers, and each state can have different requirements. And this is not about to change, the US government has said.
There is also concern on whether the EU and the US would recognize their respective standards especially when it comes to the labelling of genetically-modified crops (GMO).
Reuters reported last October that at least 150,000 people marched in Berlin on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they say is anti-democratic and will lower food safety, labor and environmental standards.
Organisers — an alliance of environmental groups, charities and opposition parties — said 250,000 people had taken part in the rally against free trade deals with both the United States and Canada, far more than they had anticipated.