Strong concerns about EU-US trade deal raised in Poland

75 Polish NGOs sign joint statement criticizing TTIP’s secrecy & investor privileges

Warsaw, 28th September 2014 – for immediate release

[Update on 3.07.2015: Now, 75 Polish organisations signed the statement on TTIP]

Thirty two Polish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are seriously concerned about several of the provisions of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the new trade deal being negotiated between the EU and US, as well as the secrecy of the talks. The seventh round of negotiations on TTIP starts in Chevy Chase, Maryland on Monday.

Poland is the world’s eighth most frequently sued country under the controversial Inverstor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which is central to TTIP. There are 16 known cases filed by foreign investors against Poland, though the actual number may be much higher.

‚Poland was sued by US investors at least six times’ said Marcin Wojtalik from the Institute of Global Responsibility in Warsaw. ”Poland has been under the regime of ISDS since the early 1990s as a result of its various Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), and has seen how damaging it is to the budget and the right of citizens’ access to public information. Now TTIP’s excessive investor protection is going to be set in stone not only for Poland, but the whole of the EU. Europe must not allow this to happen.”

The thirty two groups are demanding transparency and a more democratic negotiation process, cancellation of ISDS and of regulatory cooperation. The NGOs warn also about possible deregulation of standards and the threat of privatisation for public services.

The Polish NGOs and coalitions are from many sectors. These include digital rights, organic and traditional farming, civil rights, environment and climate change, anti-GMO, local and fair trade, and development.

“Regulatory cooperation is a key threat of TTIP,” says Józef Halbersztadt from Internet Society Poland. “The proposed Regulatory Cooperation Council may give more influence to corporate lobbyists and take some power away from democratically elected bodies in Europe.”

European civil society groups concerned with TTIP published a statement in English in May. The text can be found at: http://www.bilaterals.org/?people-environment-and-democracy

The group of 32 Polish NGOs chose in September to sign the same statement. The Polish version and a list of signatories from Poland is here: http://UwagaTTIP.pl

Background information

Details of compensation paid by Poland in the various ISDS cases against the country are not known because the Polish government systematically refuses to disclose details, even when challenged in court. The Polish government cannot disclose this information because its hands are tied by Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) that often explicitly forbid transparency. TTIP threatens to firm up this situation as it does not resolve these major secrecy concerns. It may indeed mark the end to citizens’ right to public information on how much each ISDS case costs the taxpayer, as well as the names of the companies that benefit from it.

Some of the Polish NGOs that signed the September statement were also keen to support the  European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which aimed to stop the trade deals between the EU and US ((TIP) and the EU and Canada (CETA). However the registration of the ECI was recently rejected by the European Commission (EC). In response, the ECI organisers have announced that they will collect signatures for an autonomous ECI. Signatures will be collected off-line and through: http://stop-ttip.org

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