EGALEO: THE FIRST TTIP-FREE ZONE IN GREECE

Egaleo is the first TTIP free zone in Greece. Nature Friends Greece greets the decision of Mayor and the city council of Egaleo to be at the forefront and declare the municipality TTIP-free zone.

This decision for us, apart from symbolic is political to the core. The struggle against multinational interests is multidimensional. The only way for civil society and grassroots movements to gain momentum against TTIP is coordinated fight at a wide social, institutional and regional spectrum.

Nature Friends Greece, fundamentally believes and communicates the idea either with individuals or local authorities that the only way to withstand injustice is social resistance.

Strategically in order to communicate the idea of the importance of the TTIP-free zones initiative along with the local authorities Nature Friends Greece conducted elected members from left and green parties. Really important was the contribution of Nature Friends President, Kostas Foteinakis in order to approach local representatives. His prior experience as local representative himself at the municipality of Haidari, gave us an internal first hand perspective of the municipal procedures and the first crucial conducts to reach the elected members of the municipalities.

Pivotal for our campaign was the edition and dissemination of a supportive brochure in order to communicate the basic information about the initiative, for public awareness, on local authorities and anti-TTIP action. Recipients were all the municipalities in Greece, journalists, as well as our mailing list and our social media followers. Subsequently we draw up letters adapted to the needs of targeted municipalities and we contacted with a few elected, mainly left wing, representatives. The selection of the targeted municipalities was done either by the political importance of a municipality such as Aristotle, next to the open pit gold mine in northeast Halkidiki, or by the eventuality of a positive result.

Additionally Nature Friends operates a dedicated TTIP/ CETA blog spot, with more than 10 TTIP-free zones related articles. Last but not least supportive to our campaign was the previous successful unanimous decision at 2004 of Greek local authorities against GMOs.

Furthermore, our main targets concerning the Free Zones Campaign is to raise social awareness, and to promote the cooperation of Greek municipalities in order to create a network of Free TTIP and CETA Zones in coordination with the respective European network. Under this framework in order to strengthen the European Coordination, we suggested all the mayors that oppose the trade agreements to participate in the April 21st and 22nd of 2016 Barcelona meeting of local authorities against the new generation of trade agreements.

The first direct and positive response came from Egaleo Municipality, located in the metropolitan area of Athens. Such a decision, usually is time consuming, but not in our case. The area, mainly inhabited by working class people, has a long tradition in resistance even since World War II, a decisive background that offered a direct reaction to the issue.

Egaleo City, has a population of almost 70,000 people, and is one of the largest municipalities in the Attica Region, a quarter of it is industrial area. The municipality offers a community food bank, which supports a great number of families, additionally trade without mediators is promoted at the local market.

Considering all the above the opposition against TTIP/ CETA and the respective restrictive conditions for local communities, was more than likely to occur. The new generation of trade deals undermines further labor, environmental and justice rights, replacing the democratic decisions of local authorities and communities.

Deregulation and liberalisation of services is leading to the privatisation of public services and common goods, without the possibility, of remunicipalisation or to bring them again under common ownership. EU’s fundamental precept of precautionary principle along with personal data protection is under threat. Environmental degradation, loss of food sovereignty, lack of access to public health and negotiations behind closed doors are some of the main reasons for grassroots mobilisation against TTIP.

The resolution of a local municipality to declare its territory TTIP-free is another way to put public pressure, on central governments and TTIP negotiators.

Nature Friends Greece keeps on by organising meetings with local authorities in order to communicate the idea of turning cities into TTIP-free and hopefully until the summer of 2016 more than 10 free zones are expected to raise in Greece.

On behalf of Nature Friends Greece,
Tonia Foti & Konstantinos Koutsonikolas

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