Fear grows among European citizens that market freedom may mean a loss of consumer rights.
TTIP, a free-trade agreement between Europe, the United States and Canada, is a huge leap forward in the process of market globalisation. The treaty would bring approximately a billion consumers together in a huge trading zone, abolishing taxes and customs tariffs, granting free access to the market, and harmonising some of the rules of the two continents.
Supporters of the treaty point out that the benefits for trade would be huge, since the EU’s exports across the Atlantic could potentially increase to over 28%, accounting for approximately 6% of its global exports, while American exports would see a global increase of around 8%.
However, the proposed the treaty has not found much favour among European consumers, who fear that the European market will be invaded by meat treated with hormones and antibiotics, chickens sterilised with bleach, and GM grains and vegetables. According to sceptics, the real motivation behind these concerns is fear of unfair competition resulting from less rigid laws in the US and Canada.
There is panic among Europeans, and when a petition was drawn up against the TTIP, it was soon signed by a million people.
Supporters of TTIP argue that European consumers would benefit from a more detailed system of labelling and that the treaty would protect European PDO (protected designation of origin)-certified products against North American copies. They also maintain that the TTIP is one of the last remaining chances to create a market capable of competing with China, India and Brazil and to encourage these emerging global powers to adapt to western qualitative standards.