Local Green MSP Mark Ruskell is lending further support to St Andrews campaigners opposed to a controversial trans-Atlantic trade proposal.
The member for Mid Scotland and Fife met the St Andrews TTIP Action Group last week in the town’s library.
Grass roots people like ourselves know a lot about what’s happening; we’re following it as a single issueJean Kemp
The group is strongly opposed to the EU-Canada Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA), which is in the final stages of ratification.
CETA is a mammoth trade deal between the European Union and Canada. It’s regarded by group members as the “wee brother” of TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which involves the US.
The group is concerned about negotiations regarding the agreements being held in private, and that they may take effect without sufficient public debate and Parliamentary scrutiny, despite affecting local councils and local people.
Mr Ruskell has tabled a Scottish Parliamentary motion calling on the UK Government not to ratify CETA or TTIP without the express agreement of each of the devolved legislations of the UK.
A main concern is that CETA will prevent local councils from giving preference to local businesses and local communities when awarding contracts.
Supporters believe the deals would cut tariffs and lower regulatory barriers to make trade easier between the two markets.
The UK Government says TTIP would benefit shoppers by making goods cheaper and creating more choice, and that it could boost the UK economy by as much as £10 billion a year. It also believes the deal would help small businesses by opening up markets and making customs processes smoother.
But opponents fear TTIP is a threat to public services, environmental regulations and workers’ rights.
Fife Council has already declared opposition to it , while St Andrews group spokesman Jean Kemp said it was a “huge attack on democracy”.
CETA could become effective around October or November, she added, and members wanted to raise awareness.
The EU Council’s decision meant it might go into effect without any national governments having the chance to debate it, said Mrs Kemp.
Mr Ruskell also offered to create an informal forum in which politicians and interested groups – hopefully including St Andrews – could have informal discussions at Holyrood.
“Grass roots people like ourselves know a lot about what’s happening, because we are following it as a single issue, whereas some politicians, who have a lot on their plate, are maybe less aware of it,” she added.