Spanish activists are gearing up to continue the fight against TTIP and CETA

Serlinda Vigara

Report and pictures of ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop on CETA and TTIP

More than 70 Spanish activists from all over the country met in the Hotel Dome las Tablas (Madrid) on 1, 2 and 3 July with the aim of updating and broadening their knowledge of TTIP and CETA. The ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop on CETA and TTIP was organised by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels Office, and the Spanish Campaign against TTIP which is composed of social movements, organisations, collectives, platforms and citizens’ assemblies which share a deep-rooted concern about the various threats posed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The Spanish campaign represents very diverse public interests, including protection of the environment, public health, agriculture, consumers’ rights, food and farming standards, social and labour standards, workers’ rights, women’s rights and the fight against patriarchal domination, public access to information and digital rights and the defence of essential public services such as education, the public and social control of financial systems and animal welfare, amongst others.

Picture Gallery

During these three days, activists worked side by side with specialists on a variety of topics that will be profoundly affected if these treaties come into force, such as the environment, labour services or public procurement. Paul-Emile Dupret, from the European United Left parliamentary group in the European Parliament and Tom Kucharz, spokesman for the ‘No to TTIP’ state campaign opened these days of activism, which were used to feed the spark of resistance in the face of these treaties. Both Dupret and Kucharz focused on the latest developments regarding CETA, with its provisional application being suggested only two days after this training workshop ended in Madrid. CETA is a trade agreement that was negotiated in secret over more than five years (from 2009 to 2014) and which is to be ratified this very year. It is expected that the EU Trade Ministers will discuss and vote on the proposal of the Commission to approve CETA at their next meetings in September and October. This trade agreement between the EU and Canada is a “mixed” agreement or one of competencies shared between the EU and its Member States, therefore various countries such as Germany or France could block approval of the agreement. Nevertheless, the speakers emphasised that the provisional application of this treaty is a completely anti-democratic process since the decision of the European Commission does not allow national parliaments to vote on its approval before it comes into effect.

Vicente Dámaso (professor at the University of Valladolid) and Pedro Ramiro (OMAL) [Observatorio de Multinacionales en América Latina – Observatory of Multinationals in Latin America] gave a master class for activists on corporate power, the architecture of impunity and alternatives to this unjust system. The latter have sprung up from the resistance to a globalised world where countries have been relegated to the backstage and both social rights and rights aimed at hyper-regulation of the rights of large corporations have been diminished. Ramiro reported that multinationals’ rules are being superimposed on state regulations, both in Spain as well as in the rest of the world. Both speakers spoke in favour of maintaining the fight, resistance and constant reporting of the consequences of these free trade agreements.

Public procurement, public services, SMEs and workers’ rights were among the most popular topics with Spanish activists. Cristina Pina (Engineers without Borders), Fátima Aguado (CCOO – Workers’ Commissions Trade Union) and Adoración Guamán (ATTAC – Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Citizens’ Action) underlined, above all, the role of TTIP and CETA in public procurement, an aspect that is under extreme threat in Spain. With the application of these free trade agreements, public resources would fall systematically into the hands of private capital. Public procurement is one of the topics that causes the most disagreement between TTIP and CETA negotiators and its protection is one of the issues that Spanish activists are taking up.

Other issues which have been most criticised, and which have raised awareness in Spain, are those related to food and the environment. Blanca Ruibal (Amigos de la Tierra – Friends of the Earth) reported on the importance of protecting extensive stockbreeding at high altitudes that is in danger of disappearing in Spain following TTIP. Activists were astonished by some of the data, above all on health inspections in the US and elsewhere; participants considered that “of all antibiotics used in the world, more than half are for animals”. Pablo Cotarelo followed on from Blanca, focussing on social metabolism (the manner in which societies organise the exchange of energy and materials with the environment) and how these questions relate to TTIP.

Communication plays an essential role in the fight against TTIP in Spain, which is why the workshop on communication strategies given by Alejandro de Miguel (journalist at the newspaper ‘Público’) and Paula Ortega (Podemos) was one of the most dynamic and participatory of the whole conference. For almost three hours these communication specialists trained activists in how to use communication media, handle awkward questions and difficult to tackle situations. Activists were able to practise everything they learned during the session and improve their verbal communication even further. Finally, the session on advocacy strategies, given by Luis Luis Rico (Ecologistas en Acción – Ecologists in Action) and Eugenia Hernández (ATTAC) created a very interesting framework, carrying out an analysis of where are the weakest points that will provide dialogue opportunities to influence decision-making on these treaties and impact them in order to change the process, without forgetting at any time the position from which each activist is starting and their capacity for exerting influence.

The Spanish campaign against TTIP was very satisfied with the result of the training sessions: the networks between social movements, organisations and collectives from large sections of the country were consolidated against TTIP and the aspects where Spain is most vulnerable were investigated in depth. We are now faced with a year of decisive battle, with TTIP hanging by a thread thanks to social pressure and the efforts of hundreds of organisations and movements throughout the world.