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The agreement has been criticized and opposed by some unions, charities, NGOs and environmentalists, particularly in Europe. The Independent describes common criticisms of TTIP as "reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations", or more critically as an "assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations". The Guardian noted the criticism of TTIP's "undemocratic nature of the closed-door talks", "influence of powerful lobbyists", TTIP's potential ability to "undermine the democratic authority of local government", and described it as "the most controversial trade deal the EU has ever negotiated". German economist Max Otte argued that by putting European workers into direct competition with Americans (and in effect because of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexicans), TTIP would negatively impact the European social models. An EU direct democracy mechanism, the European Citizens' Initiative, which enables EU citizens to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act, acquired over 3. 2 million signatures against TTIP and CETA within a year.