Petition protesting E.U.-U.S. trade treaty passes 1 million signatures

More than a million people have signed an online petition against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a controversial planned European-U.S. trade agreement.

The TTIP, similar to trade agreements already in place between the U.S. and Canada, aims to facilitate trans-Atlantic trade. But its detractors say it risks undermining the rule of law, and will benefit corporations rather than citizens.

Of the 1,007,294 European signatures opposing the TTIP at press time, 614,000 originate from Germany, 185,000 from the United Kingdom, 40,000 from each Austria and France, and 24,000 from Spain.

The petition is organized by the Stop TTIP coalition, which is “supported by more than 320 civil society organizations, trade unions and consumer watchdogs from 24 EU Member States,” they told the Daily Dot, originating with a group of German NGO’s.

A key contention objectors to the TTIP have is agreement’s inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), a form of tribunal that can be used to sue governments if their policies “cause a loss of profits,” Lee Williams wrote in the Independent

Stop TTIP, however, says ISDS is “only one issue that we criticize,” and that the TTIP is also problematic in other ways, notably the “extremely undemocratic and intransparent [sic] negotiations. 

“We do not oppose trade agreements in general,” the group told the Daily Dot, “but they should be negotiated transparently and citizens should be able to participate.” 

The million-signature mark is not just symbolic. If a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) gets more than one million signatures, it can force a policy review or hearing at the European Parliament. However, the European Commission has refused to register Stop TTIP as a ECI on the grounds that it “falls manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act of the Union for the purpose of implementing the Treaties”—meaning the hoped review may not materialize despite the signatures.

That decision won’t just be challenged in the courts. Stop TTIP also plans to present European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with the signatures on his birthday on Dec. 9.

Photo via White House/Wikimedia Commons 

Rob Price

Rob Price

Rob Price is a technology and politics reporter who served as the U.K.-based morning editor for the Daily Dot until 2014. He now works as the news editor for Business Insider, and his work has appeared in Vice, Slate, the Washington Post, and the Independent.