The documents leaked by Greenpeace on the free trade agreement between the EU and US caused quite a stir. The environmental group has the most to gain from the publicity, writes DW's Miodrag Soric from Washington.
Greenpeace has been damaging TTIP negotiations right from the beginning. This is legitimate: it is what lobbyists do. What is surprising is the fact that Germany's press and politicians walked straight into the trap. Very few people publicly question the organization's allegations; as a matter of fact, they even pass as facts. However, the revelations are propaganda - and not an information campaign.
The organization resembles Donald Trump. He also puts on a political show, spreads half-truths around the world and then allows himself to be feted. So it is fitting that Trump rails against the free trade agreement. Of course, he claims he is protecting his compatriots from the evil abroad. He puts down the political establishment that has, in his opinion, "somehow been bought by the economy."
Greenpeace couldn't have said it better
Here are some facts for a change: International agreements are always negotiated behind closed doors. This does not necessarily have to do with secrecy, as Greenpeace asserts. It is simply a matter of practicality. If democratically elected politicians do not agree with the result of negotiations, then they vote against it or renegotiate.
Germany is TTIP's greatest beneficiary
It is remarkable that a particularly large number of people in Germany have reservations about TTIP. Yet the strongest exporter on the European continent stands to gain the most from the agreement. Entire industries, such as medical technologies, thrive on international trade and employ thousands of people. German carmakers spend several hundred million euros annually to have their motors or auto parts certified in the USA. It is a competitive disadvantage that works in the favor of American and Asian automobile manufacturers.
The Baltic nations, Great Britain, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands are amazed about the fact that Germany, of all countries, is putting the brakes on TTIP talks. The majority of citizens in the aforementioned countries – apart from Germany - side with the USA.
Stricter environmental protection in Europe?
Greenpeace is less interested in the preservation of living standards. They are concerned about environmental protection, although they hide the fact that the USA is in many ways stricter than the EU when it comes to environmental protection. US authorities have pulled hundreds of thousands of VW diesel models from circulation, even though they are still allowed on German motorways. Be it dairy products, meat products or food additives: Americans are often much stricter than Europeans. The fruit juices on the table at Greenpeace meetings cannot be sold in the USA because they potentially contain residues of plant protection products. The Europeans may be prepared to die for this, but not the Americans!
Greenpeace also assumes that consumer protection would be sacrificed on the altar of TTIP. I will never forget the words of an old farmer in Iowa when I addressed her about the subject of genetically modified corn. She responded, "We Americans love our grandchildren, too."
One thing is for sure: TTIP may not end up being a perfect agreement. Europeans and Americans alike must make concessions but they will benefit together when customs duties are eliminated, certification is mutually recognized and when consumers decide whether to buy American or European products.