The Risk-Monger

The Risk-Monger, as a mid-Atlantic analyst, should have some clear ideas and positions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). He does, but until now has not bothered to join the debate, because, frankly, there is no point. This is not because TTIP is flawed – there are many points that are very positive (and freeing up trade has led to enormous benefits for economies, consumers and businesses time and time again). But rather, he has avoided getting pulled into this debate because too many in Brussels and other EU capitals are too prejudiced against Americans to ever risk standing up and defending the positive effects of free trade. Who are we kidding? TTIP does not have a chance in such an anti-American place like the Brussels Bubble.

Like most Canadians who can only define themselves by whom they are not, the Risk-Monger also likes to give it to the Americans with a smug sense of misplaced superiority. But even he is shocked by the raging anti-American bias, prejudice and absolutely stupid nonsense embarrassingly coming out of the anti-TTIP protest movement. I am frightened to think about what policy analysts in Washington must be thinking about those ill-informed yahoos in Brussels. On behalf of the dwindling thinking class in Brussels, I would like to use this blog to apologise for the tasteless slurs and offensive stereotypes found in anti-TTIP campaign materials.

I am not talking about the predictable racist slurs from Eur-rednecks like Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage – but they too have found many friends in the anti-globalisation, anti-industry activists running around Brussels calling themselves environmentalists or transparency aficionados. These anti-TTIP campaigners are embarrassingly prejudiced yobs – what erupts from their narrow minds is little more than hateful propaganda, sadly too widely shared in this day and age.

Take for example the fear-mongering video (cue alarmist music) on how American chemicals, GMOs and, gulp, chlorinated chicken (mentioned three horrifying times) will poison us innocent and unsuspecting environment and health-loving Europeans. By the way, what exactly is so terrible about chlorine-treated chicken? Millions of Europeans swim in and drink chlorinated water every day and enjoy the protection this miracle chemical provides. For those who risk eating highly bacteria-infected meat that poisons and kills hundreds every day, is there really something wrong about protecting humans with a safe disinfectant? But if you can make it sound scary, people won’t notice how stupid you are treating them.

Of course these campaigners try to hide their discrimination behind issues they claim are important to citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. They argue with horror that TTIP talks are being done in secret (Duh! How else do you negotiate? You don’t put all of your cards publicly on the table!) or that there is something sinister going on with the concept of regulatory cooperation (something we used to call stakeholder engagement until the anti-industry groups didn’t like the idea that companies, as innovators and job producers, were also considered as stakeholders and allowed at the table). They will play this rhetoric up through the spring fundraising campaigns (which should be very lucrative as defending prejudice is a highly emotional, credit-card swiping technique) and then when crunch-time comes, play the anti-American card to claim victory.

Apparently with TTIP we Europeans will all become: obese, non-thinking consumers force-fed processed fast foods. We will all be unwittingly eating GMOs and have our environment polluted with unrestricted chemicals dumped in our school playgrounds. We will all have big corporate lawyers telling our governments what to do (at the taxpayer’s expense) and lobbyists will take our democratic rights away from us. We’ll have to give up our beloved windmills for fracking wells. We’ll lose our trade unions and collective bargaining rights (not to mention all of our holidays!) and become minimum-wage paid serfs. As if Europe does not have lawyers, fat people, minimum wage workers, natural gas or GMOs.

How would Europeans feel if Americans in Washington stoked the stereotypes about European bank and insurance industry thieves, poisonous pharma-fraudsters, mafia-driven closed-door companies and, God-forbid, those hedonistic Catholics. Wouldn’t we find them stupid to play up such fear cards? Fortunately, Americans don’t think like some European scaremongers.

The Risk-Monger is not surprised about the anti-American prejudice found in the chattering classes inside the Brussels Bubble. He has been cursed with an American accent and knows what it means to be treated like an American (it usually gets very uncomfortable in Brussels when Republicans are in power in the US). After 30 years in Brussels, he has learnt to work a reference to his Canadian roots somewhere into a conversation. At which point the interlocutor usually apologises profusely for his or her mistaken prejudice (as if he wishes he could remove his spit from my coffee).

What is regrettable to thinking people is that groups like SumOfUs, Corporate Europe Observatory, attac and LobbyControl have resorted to playing the prejudice and anti-American scaremongering card in order to win the debate against TTIP. They will easily win on this issue because, unfortunately, there are enough anti-American Eur-rednecks around EU capitals who would rather react against Americans than think about selling the benefits of free trade or risk having to compete in a fair and open market. And that is the T-TIPping point!

 

NB – The Risk-Monger will be on a speaking tour in New York, Boston and Washington in April, where he will apologise in person for all of the embarrassing claims from the Brussels Bubble Eur-rednecks.

 

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Comments

  1. Good to see that Risk-monger retains his mid-Atlantic perspective and is prepared to name names and shame the many of us who are pro trade but a largely silent majority on TTIP. Hope you get some good audiences during your US trip.

  2. The point is if you want european citizens to adopt the stuff you will face their natural opposition. We hear very little about what the EU so far has negotiated in Washington. the US does not move, not on geo indications, not on berry amendments, not on buy america, not on adoption of the metric system or Buy america. All of this blatant anti-free trade. There is even a prohibition on oil and gas exports from the US. And when it comes to the US adapting to EU data protection standards we hear.

    The reality is that the EU is the world’s regulatory leader and the TTIP is a way for the US facing the multipolar world scenario to buy themselves into that regulatory power hub. No nation around the world (except Liberia) takes US laws as blueprint, they all copy European standards. We don’t need TTIP if the US simply adapts to what works for 27 independent nations and is copy-pasted around the world, not only in Norway and Switzerland.

    So instead of moaning about the poultry industry trying to open the EU market for chlorinated chicken, I wonder why the US does not simply harmonise with EU standards. You can’t reopen regulatory deals for 27 nations just because a single external nation is still a strong power.

    1. Interesting points Andy – each side has issues – I am sure the Americans would prefer that the EU adopts their much stricter air quality norms or corporate fiscal disclosure and transparency legislation (but I don’t see them running anti-European discrimination campaigns). We have to avoid the righteousness of such statements as: Why don’t they just adopt our standards (that is one step away from the fundamentalist Christian praying that the heathens, Jews and Muslims all accept Jesus Christ as their saviour – a nice thought if you think that only you are right). Right now there are negotiations so we cannot jump to conclusions until the whole package is presented – but that won’t matter anyway as France already said they would not approve it in the near future (face it – that is code for: never!).
      One little point to clarify your remarks – most countries do not adopt US legislation because a great deal of the regulations in the US are done at the state level. Each state EPA, for example, manages their environment so we find states like California or Oregon far greener than the EU – Americans are used to different states or regions having different legislation (some states legalised marijuana – many states have wage and union policies far stricter than the EU) so thinking that the Americans are pushing for us to adopt their lax regulations misses the fact that they don’t do it themselves. I cannot be bothered to blog much about how Europeans misunderstand TTIP since I see the entire process doomed (because of that level of misunderstanding, combined with rhetorical opportunism from the anti-industry ninnies).

  3. This is just propaganda. Everyone knows that the “Brussels Bubble” is inflated and deflated by the U.S. at its will. And that, in the end, Brussels always does its homework diligently.

  4. You are not cynical enough.

    These groups which run against TTIP run a business. Their business.

    They must have a cause to ensure their (continued) existence. They must appear on the radar screens. They must collect money from institutional donors (which have their own agendas) or private persons.

    Arguing FOR is a loosing strategy… nothing to gain. Arguing AGAINST, on the other hand…

    And to argue, you need simple messages, preferably emotional ones. Try to explain the advantages of the US moving to the metric system… Campaigning against chlorinated chicken is so much easier…

    1. I thought my comment about them playing this game through the spring fundraising season was cynical enough Wackes … OK, also through the autumn and Christmas fundraising seasons (as long as that turkey can be plucked and stuffed). Would they all be piling in on this campaign (re: cash) opportunity if they couldn’t tap into the latent prejudice and fear? It’s immoral (but that has never stopped them before). Outside of the cash opportunities for these groups, what I resent most (and I kept this out of my blog proper but feel free to share it here) is the latent defeatism they are propagating: that Europeans cannot compete with Americans and TTIP will mean the big US companies will rape us blind. We are told, for example, that we cannot compete with the US farming industry, so we convince our farmers that they are growing a luxury brand (pure and natural) and then reject agricultural technologies that would allow them to compete and not have Europeans depend on Africans to feed us. TTIP also means opportunities for German engineering firms, Italian design, British financial services, European food industries, car industries, wines and spirits … but if we continue to think we cannot compete and let those anti-industry ninnies profit from our inferiority fears, then Europeans will never get the chance. OK, I hope that is cynical enough.

  5. « Would they all be piling in on this campaign (re: cash) opportunity if they couldn’t tap into the latent prejudice and fear? »

    Of course not. They are campaigning because prejudice and fear can be built up easily (the catchwords – GMO, chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef, etc. – suffice. Add multinational, Monsanto…

    I too resent the defeatism, but think it is almost everywhere. The Prodi Commission launched the Lisbon Agenda… José Manuel Barroso allowed it to go down the drain. What did we have instead? I can’t think of anything exciting.

    NGOs surf on the wave of defeatism. They are either formatted to do that, or do it out of shear corporate strategy.

    Have you ever looked into the finances of the leaders of Europe’s self destruction?

    What do you think of an « NGO » (an entity incorporated as a Stichting in fiscal paradise Netherlands) which announces a total of some 780,000 Euros grants from a particular donor for 2005-2013, when that donor announces 650,000 pounds for 2005-2014? Plausible?

    And what about this :

    « Friends of the Earth Europe gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from DG Environment and the JMG foundation. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory and cannot be regarded as reflecting the position of the funders mentioned above. The funders cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information that appears on this website. »

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