A movement against the US-EU free trade zone is gaining momentum in France with fifteen local governments, including the Parisian and four other regions raising the alarm about the proposed transatlantic market that is being negotiated in secret.
France has traditionally been one of the strongest opponents of free trade in the EU and now more and more municipalities are demanding to be declared transatlantic trade and investment partnership or TIFF ‘free zones’.
The idea was originally adopted by Ile de France upon the suggestion of the radical Front de Gauche. Auvergne, Limousin, Picardy and Provence -Alpes- Côte d’ Azur are now also among the regional governments who are worried about the TIFF negotiating mandate given to European Commission by EU states in June 2013.
“Negotiated in secret, and initiated by employers including large multinationals, the US administration and the liberal and social liberal European leaders, this project involves the dismantling of all the “obstacles” to the free movement of capital, goods, services and people between the European Union and the United States,” declares Ile-de- France, a region with 12 million inhabitants.
Three regions (Burgundy , Brittany, Rhône-Alpes ) want a moratorium or a debate about the negotiations. Burgundy has asked the Association of French Regions (ARF), a representative body of regional authorities, to start a national debate with the participation of local authorities, parliamentarians, trade unions and associations.
In Rhône-Alpes, a motion filed by the Front de Gauche and green EELV party declaring the transatlantic market area off limits in the region was rejected by the Socialists and Front National, and instead a demand for a moratorium was called. A similar decision was made in Brittany.
Two smaller administrative units known as departments – Saint- Denis and Tarn – and seven towns – Besançon , Briançon , Crévoux Grande Synthe, Niort, Saint- Denis and Sevran – have declared themselves TIFF free zones.
France’s local governments fear the agreement will involve “all levels of government,” as outlined in the negotiating mandate of the European Commission. Once adopted, the agreement applies “not only to EU Member States , but also all the components of these States: in France, regions , departments, municipalities; in Belgium, communities, regions, provinces, municipalities; in Germany, the Länder and municipalities, etc.
The Agreement “would be a way for multinationals to eliminate all public decisions that constitute obstacles to the expansion of their market share, leading to the domination of U.S. and European multinationals, and the dominance of the United States. We dare not imagine the impact on local authorities forced to open public services up to the private sector. This project could bring in a private “investor-state” arbitration mechanism, which would replace the existing courts,” notes department of Seine-Saint- Denis.