Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Explaining the Strategy and Assessing its Impact.

Patricia Garcia Duran, Leif Johan Eliasson

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) constitutes an ambitious attempt to improve job creation and boost the economies on both sides of the Atlantic by creating an integrated transatlantic market place with few trade barriers and enhanced coherence. across two regulatory regimes. TTIP will also to establish precedents, setting the highest standards achieved in any trade agreement. Yet the progress has been slow, and opposition mounting, especially in Europe, since negotiations were launched in 2013. This is peculiar given the prominence of trade in the European economies, the compatibility between the two allies, the idea for TTIP came from the EU, and that following the 2015 completion of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement the EU needs TTIP to avoid suffering trade and investment divergence. However, economic benefits and standard setting impacts notwithstanding, the fate of this trade and investment agreement will be determined by a different metric. The fear of being sidelined by TPP has not dented opposition to TTIP in Europe, so its roots must lay deeper. Politics, the perceptions of acceptability, not economics, will determine the fate of TTIP, thus making constituency support necessary for treaty ratification. This paper looks at how consumer interest groups have strategically chosen a few key issues on which to raise awareness, generate salience, and rally public opposition using a multitude of avenues (social media, public rallies, traditional lobbying). This strategy has forced changes in how the EU communicates with the public on trade negotiations, shaped certain EU proposals in TTIP, and slowed the pace of negotiations to the point where its completion is in doubt. The findings have relevance for the literature on public opinion and trade policy.

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