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As this is the fundamental issue for deciding my vote and countless other people's, it would really great to get some clarity on the subject. A lot of people are saying that in the event of a "Brexit", we would no longer be subject to the TTIP. I have heard other people say that because the UK is like a sidekick to the US, and the conservative government are on the whole pro-TTIP, we could easily be re-drafted into the agreement, or it could even be expediated.

Does anyone know anything about the process of the these agreements, how easy they are to change, how long it would take or anything at else at all useful to know on this subject?

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    Formally, it's really easy but politically all partners have to agree. How long it takes is anybody's guess, recent leaks suggest negotiations have essentially stalled for two years because the US won't move on anything so it's not even clear the TTIP will be finalised anytime soon. – Relaxed May 16 '16 at 11:15
  • A 51st state doesn't need to sign TTIP. – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder May 16 '16 at 17:06
  • It seems more likely TTIP will consist of only the UK and the USA, excluding the rest of the EU. – gerrit Jan 20 '17 at 12:02
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Basically, the way this works at the moment is that, because the EU has a “single market”, it also handles negotiations on trade agreements with other countries. Should the UK leave, it could immediately join the negotiation and/or enter any trade agreement on its own. So the UK could easily become a party to the TTIP or any other similar agreement that could follow it, either together with the EU and the US or bilaterally with one or the other (although, in practice, it would probably wait to have sorted out a new relationship with the EU, which could take years in itself).

Furthermore, the governments of all EU member states (represented in the Council of the European Union) gave the EU Commission a mandate to negotiate the TTIP in the first place and have to agree to the outcome of the negotiation before anything happens. National politicians sometimes use the EU's role in this to distance themselves from the process but it is certainly not something happening without their consent (and that's especially true of the biggest countries) and the UK could easily block the TTIP if it wanted to.

Politically, there is no reason to suspect the current conservative cabinet or the UK government in general are being strong-armed into this. By contrast, agricultural subsidies or labour conditions standards (e.g. working times) are usually perceived as things the UK conceded for the sake of being part of the EU and getting what it wanted in other areas. Not so for trade agreements or business-friendly regulations.

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  • Do you think it will be more less likely we would be drafted in after a Brexit? It seems from what you said that we might be safer in the EU because all it would take is one member-state to block the deal? – Varrick May 16 '16 at 11:17
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    @Varrick That would be my guess yes. But there are at least two ways the UK leaving could delay the TTIP. First, both the UK and the EU (and maybe the US) might prefer to wait for the details of the new relationship between the UK and the EU before entering a new agreement. Secondly, the EU could conceivably keep the UK out of the TTIP as a kind of retaliation (it would not be complicated to admit the UK to the negotiation but all current negotiation partners have to agree to it...) I don't think the latter is particularly likely, but who knows? – Relaxed May 16 '16 at 11:21
  • You've certainly given me a lot to think about, thankyou :) – Varrick May 16 '16 at 11:23
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    In any case, I don't think "being drafted" really describes the process accurately. Whether on its own or as part of the EU, the UK would enter the agreement (because a great many powerful people in the UK want that). – Relaxed May 16 '16 at 11:23
  • For what it's worth, the Greek ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α. government promised to block TTIP for the full EU. – gerrit May 16 '16 at 16:36
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There are two separate parts to this (1) Britain's elected leaders wanting not to be a part of a TTIP-like agreement and (2) Britain's ability to negotiate a better deal outside of the framework of the EU.

Desire to avoid TTIP

Currently one of the biggest supporters of TTIP in the EU is the British government itself, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to put "rocket boosters" behind plans.

Certainly there is little evidence that the political will is against the content of the agreement as it stands. There is no evidence to suggest that such a position is likely to change with the present government.

Negotiation as an EU member state

There has been some concern that the EU member states could not exercise their veto in the way they could for the ACTA agreement, though I believe this is no longer the case (corrections welcomed in the comments.)

The British government has indicated that there is an NHS Exception in the negotiations and there would be insurmountable pressure to use it if that exception not the case, not least of which because the NHS employs 1.5 million people who would be inclined to vote differently at the next election.

The ΣΥΡΙΖΑ / Syriza government in Greece say they will never ratify TTIP.

The French government have been asking for a cultural exception to protect French Cinema from Hollywood; and more importantly will not accept harmonisation in Food Safety and Agricultural rules which are perceived to benefit American interests.

“We will never accept questioning essential principles for our agriculture, our culture and for the reciprocity of access to public [procurement] markets,” Hollande is reported as saying at a meeting of left-wing politicians in Paris. “At this stage [of the talks] France says ‘No.'”

Source: Independent, 3rd May, 2016

This leaves the possibility of TTIP happening at all rather remote at best.

Negotiation outside of the EU

Once informing the European Council of an intent to leave, Britain has 2 years to negotiate a viable trade agreement. Given the glacial timeframes of EU politics combined with bad feeling and a desire to "stick it to Britain" for affecting the stability of the union this is unlikely.

To avoid TTIP a bilateral trade deal that specifically exempted the country would be required because a fall-back to WTO tariffs on import/exports would harm both UK and EU trade; and while Britain could rejoin the EFTA (including Norway, Iceland and Switzerland), they are fully expecting to get TTIP 'through the back door' saying...

Since the EEA EFTA States are closely integrated in the EU’s Single Market through the EEA Agreement and therefore apply the same Single Market rules, any impact that TTIP may have on the Single Market is likely to affect the EEA EFTA States.

Source: EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee adopts resolution on TTIP

The EEA EFTA relationship with the EU could be summarised as "You say, We pay" and with no real input or protection for EFTA members in the TTIP or any other negotiations the EU might do with India or China.

Some temporary measures could give extra time to negotiate an EU deal (the remaining EU members ALL permitting), trade deals take a long time to complete, for example:-

  • The CETA EU/Canada deal has recently been ratified following 7 years of negotiations. It is considered quite a quick result and was conducted on good terms.
  • A similar India/EU deal is not yet complete was considered 'almost complete' in 2011 and in the final lap in spring 2013 but is as-yet incomplete in 2016. Talks began in 2006.

In any case it would be obvious to any other potential trade partner that, without a good EU trade deal, they would be more necessary to the UK than the UK is to them. This places the relatively large market of the UK in a weak bargaining position and leave the British negotiators in the position of having to accept any trade deal available - even a bad one for the UK.

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The only sensible agreement at the moment for uk is TTIP . US wants British economy as part of the deal and for the deal to work for UK as well the latter must retain the status quo ie freedom of goods,services and capital with a limited freedom of movement restricted to high management of big corporations or talented people allocated in UK by those corporations as TTIP describes. UK will get what it wants along with UK and EU. Everyone will save face as no concession would be made independently . That's the road I think

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  • This is not an answer to the question. – Varrick Jul 26 '16 at 9:52

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