TTIP Town Hall Overview

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The TTIP Town Hall program is an information- and awareness-raising program dedicated to encouraging debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in local and regional communities throughout the United States. The program’s main goal is to expand the discussion of TTIP beyond Washington, DC. In that way, we aim to provide opportunities to those whose views are traditionally underrepresented in trade negotiations to express their intensity of interest in, priorities for, and concerns about the TTIP agreement.

The program was established on January 1, 2014 with a two-year “research and debate” grant from the European Commission. The project is administered by the Washington, DC-based Bertelsmann Foundation.


The TTIP Town Hall program is supported by a grant from the European Commission. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the Bertelsmann Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


Background

On June 17, 2013, the European Union and the United States announced their intentions to negotiate the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an ambitious free-trade deal that, if concluded, could dramatically impact economies on both sides of the Atlantic and redefine the trans-Atlantic relationship. Vast in scope, the TTIP aims for policy convergence in sectors ranging from agriculture and financial services to the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. A TTIP agreement also has global implications, harmonizing rules and setting standards that could lay the foundation for the broader global economic system.

But what effect will a TTIP agreement have on American businesses and civil society? While the TTIP has been hotly de- bated in Washington, DC, it has garnered less attention in the rest of the country. Additionally, local and civil-society groups thus far have been generally under-equipped to participate in the early phases of trade negotiation for two reasons:

  • Geographic Distance: The sheer distance between important communities that will be affected by a free-trade agreement and Washington, DC often minimizes the weight that their perspectives carry throughout the negotiation process. As a result, key constituencies voices have been traditionally diminished in early phases of trade debates.
  • Information Asymmetries: There is often a lack of access to objective data on the effects of free-trade agreements on local communities.

To foster greater awareness of and debate on the TTIP and its impact, the Bertelsmann Foundation has formed the TTIP Town Hall, an information- and awareness-raising program that will focus on the local and regional aspects of the agreement and expand the discussion beyond Washington, DC. The aim is to ensure that the voices of local and regional communities are heard in the US capital. Through a series of meetings, presentations, and “Town Hall” gatherings, the Bertels- mann Foundation will visit five US cities over the next two years and provide opportunities to those whose perspectives are traditionally underrepresented in trade negotiations to express their intensity of interest in, priorities for, and concern about the TTIP agreement. In doing so, the TTIP Town Hall hopes to achieve five strategic objectives:

  • Foster Transparency in the Negotiation Process
  • Provide a Forum for Local Stakeholder Engagement and Input
  • Leverage Local Policymaker Input
  • Translate an Abstract Agreement into Local Impact
  • Strengthen Cross-cultural Ties Among US and EU Communities



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TTIP Town Hall Locations

The Bertelsmann Foundation will travel to five US cities over the course of the two-year TTIP Town Hall program. A number of factors went into the selection of the cities, including:

  1. their role as major political, regional and economic hubs
  2. the centrality of local industries that could be affected by a TTIP agreement
  3. the strong presence of European businesses and governments