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Over 50 civil society groups demand a paradigm shift in EU trade and investment policies

On 26 November 2013, a European alliance of over 50 civil society organisations launched the Alternative Trade Mandate (ATM), a proposal to make European Union’s trade and investment policy work for people and the planet, not just the profit interests of a few.

“The current trade and investment regime, imposed by the European Union (EU) and the World Trade Organisation, isn’t working. Prising markets open for global agri-business is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. The deregulation of financial services through free trade agreements impedes tough regulation of the financial sector, paving the way for the next disastrous financial crisis. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament, who came to Brussels to support the launch of the ATM.

The new 20-page mandate demands trade and investment policies that, among other things, allow:

- binding social and environmental regulations to be strengthened, and full transparency in global value chains.
- a fair distribution of income within global value chains, guaranteeing a stable and decent income for producers and workers, and affordable prices for consumers (particularly for necessities such as food and medicines).
- food sovereignty to be respected, allowing countries and communities to prioritise local and regional food systems.

On several areas, such as food, work, money, and raw materials, detailed proposals for change are outlined. The mandate also calls on the EU to hold European corporations accountable for human rights violations, environmental destruction, tax avoidance, and tax evasion elsewhere.

Furthermore, the ATM proposes a new process for initiating, negotiating and finalising trade and investment agreements, giving national parliaments and civil society a stronger role and thereby rolling back policy-capture by big business.

“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. The people who are affected by these deals have never been asked what they really need. We want an open and democratic process, controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups,” said Pia Eberhardt from the Corporate Europe Observatory, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance.

The launch of the ATM was followed by a 2-hour “walk of resistance and alternatives” through the European quarter. Participants stopped at hotspots of current EU trade policy-making with banners, posters, and protest songs. The Fair Trade Advocacy Office organised the final stop of the walk in Place Luxembourg and brought Members of the European Parliament (MEP) to greet the participants. 

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Four MEPs Franziska Keller (Greens/EFA), Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), Cornelis De Jong (GUE/NGL), Johannes Laepple, and an assistant of Bernd Lange (S&D) expressed their support of the Alternative Trade Mandate in short speeches.

To watch a video from the event click here (in Spanish).

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