Something amazing has happened!
The public consultation the European Commission was forced to launch on the issue of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) has had nearly 150000 responses. This is pretty unheard of.
The consultation closed on 13 July 2014; there were some last minute issues because apparently the European Commission system couldn’t cope with the number of responses and therefore failed to collect some 50000 or so; citizens were instructed that they had to resubmit. So we might assume that the nearly 150000 is not the full extent of public interest and response to this issue.
Normally, the European Commission publishes the responses it receives to a public consultation. That can take a while after a consultation has closed. But this time, they have already published a initial statistical summary of the responses and indicate that they will not finish the analysis of the responses until around November. It’s not looking likely that they will actually publish the responses sent in themselves.
Normally, in other public consultations, the responses come from Member State government departments, other public bodies, industry and commerce and the occasional individual.
I have looked at a few consultations that have closed in the last few months, and that is the pattern, with between 20 and a few hundred responses.
This consultation is a complete outlier. I haven’t looked at all the consultations the European Commission has ever done, but I don’t think there is likely to be another one that went over 1000 responses; and certainly not one that went over 10000.
So the effort to get people responding has been a stunning success on the part of civil society.
99.62 per cent of all responses came from individuals. This is another stunning and unprecedented success of the citizen campaigns.
The responses from organisations numbered 569; this alone would have been a very good response to some other European Commission consultations. And the distribution of the responses also shows that NGOs led the way:
Source: European Commission, Preliminary Report on the consultation: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/july/tradoc_152693.pdf
It’s also interesting to see which countries were leading in terms of the number of responses:
My graph from data in the European Commission Preliminary Report cited above
These are the countries with the most responses. It’s important to look at the scale of the graph because even the ones that look really small, still have response rates of over 1000 responses.
But what stands out is the UK with it’s over 52000 responses. The campaign here in the UK seriously took hold and delivered results.
Equally, Austria, which has a much smaller population than either the UK or Germany, has had what can only be described as a staggeringly good response.
My graph from same source
The middle group of countries in terms of the number of responses is also quite impressive. Every one of them had a response exceeding 100 responses. In other consultations that would have been a fairly standard number of responses across the whole of the EU. So whilst here the responses aren’t in the dizzy heights of above 1000 and with some in the 10s of thousands, the responses are still quite impressive.
What will happen next?
Well, that’s a very good question. The preliminary report says that they are now analysing the responses and that they don’t think this will be done before November.
But the negotiations are going on in parallel. We’ve got to get across to our governments that this isn’t on. They should stop negotiating and do the analysis and then review their negotiating position before moving on.
So that’s another action to take. We need to:
- Write to our MEPs
- Write to our MPs
- Write to the Trade representatives in the Permanent Representations of our countries in Brussels
- Write to the Trade Minister (or whatever they are called in your country)
And we need to make the point forcefully: we will not be ignored. The negotiations must not proceed ignorant of the content of what nearly 150000 European citizens have said. This is too big a response to ignore.
One final bit of possibly helpful news….
In his written statement to the European Parliament as candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said the following in relation to TTIP:
This sounds to me as if he is not happy with the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism. Well, neither are probably hundreds of thousands of European citizens. So we should let him know that we will hold him to this statement.