Latest from Brussels

Commission proposes replacing ISDS with more of the same

UPDATED 17/09/2015 at 12.42 CET (with US Chamber of Commerce information in final paragraph) Critics have rounded on yet another fudge by the EU Commission  on the highly controversial ISDS  – Investor State Dispute Settlement – element of TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Today at midday, the Commission announced “a new Investment Court System which would replace the ISDS mechanism in all on-going and future EU investment negotiations.” It “has approved its proposal for a new and transparent system for resolving disputes between investors and states – the Investment Court System. This new system would replace the existing investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in all ongoing and future EU investment negotiations, including the EU-US talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).” The Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said  “With our proposals for a new Investment Court System, we are breaking new ground. The new Investment Court System will be composed of fully qualified judges, proceedings will be transparent, and cases will be decided on the basis of clear rules. With this new […]

Latest from EU Member States

EU Trade Secrets Directive Threatens Investigative Media

Written by: Claire Bernardin, Land Rights intern at Eco Ruralis; additional content via Corporate Europe Observatory. “Soon, journalists and their sources could be sued by companies if they reveal what these companies want to keep secret. Unless we react to defend the investigative work of journalists and, by extension, the right for citizen to be informed. Under the alibi of the fight against industrial espionage, the European Parliament is preparing a new massive weapon against journalism,”trade secrets”, whose definition allows not less then an unprecedented censorship in Europe.” That’s according to the petition launched by Elise Lucet, a French investigative journalist, which is  approaching half a million signatures. It all started on November 28th 2013 when the Commission submitted a draft proposal aiming to homogenise the definition of a trade secret throughout the EU. This would fight economic and industrial espionage by protecting companies against the unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of the aforementioned trade secrets, thus enhancing competitiveness in the Union. However, voices arose among civil society to denounce the dangerous vagueness of the bill. […]

Recent updates

TPP Talks Falter into “the Never Never”

Amended 03/08/2015 00.18 UTC The current round of TPP negotiations have ended without agreement in Hawaii. This has implications for TTIP – the EU  US negotiations – because of the interrelated nature of these deals. Here is brief roundup of perspectives as to why the talks have ground to a halt. Reuters (01/08/2015) “Pacific Rim trade ministers failed to clinch a deal on Friday to free up trade between a dozen nations after a dispute flared up over auto trade between Japan and North America, while New Zealand dug in over dairy trade and no agreement was reached on monopoly periods for next-generation drugs… The talks, which drew about 650 negotiators, 150 journalists and hundreds of stakeholders, had been billed as the last chance to get a deal in time to pass the U.S. Congress this year, before 2016 presidential elections muddy the waters. It’s Our Future (01/08/2015) (New Zealand based network of activists, academics and interested citizens)  were stronger in their language: “‘The “final” ministerial meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in Maui has failed. […]

Latest from key partners

Fast Track Signed by Obama

On June 29th US president Barack Obama signed Fast Track, better known as the Trade Promotion Authority. This follows the vote on 23rd June – by the narrowest of margins possible – in the US Senate to approve this controversial procedure. […]

Recent updates

All you ever wanted to know about TTIP…

Arc2020 has this week updated our briefing notes on TTIP. This means you can be fully informed with all of the major aspects, controversies and issues related to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, especially from an agri-food perspective. We explain the background – the spin about jobs and growth, in essence, and then begin to unpack all the main problems we see with this corporate power grab. These notes feature the work and publication of key organisations on both sides of the Atlantic including Friends of the Earth Europe, the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy, Corporate Europe Observatory. We unpack the threat of lowered standards and regulations; corporate influence on negotiations especially ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS) and similar regulatory chill developments; the relationship between bad diets and trade deals; lack of transparency, and also the good news – the fact that we are making progress. Here are some of the highlights you will find if you pop over to the briefing notes page: Poland had to pay E2 Billion in an ISDS settlement trying […]

Latest from Brussels

ttip: EP vote postponed – US Congress rejects fast track

BREAKING (12/06/2015, 20.30 hrs): House Rejects Trade Bill, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal First comment from IATP: Following months of intense public opposition to Fast Track, the House of Representatives today defied the Obama administration’s trade promotion package. The debate over Fast Track blurred party lines. “It took real courage for those Democrats and Republicans who stood up to the President and Republican leadership and opposed the free trade package. They defended working families, farmers, natural resources, the environment and most importantly, democratic principles,” says Juliette Majot, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). “This is a clear rejection of the free trade agenda that favors big business over workers, farmers, consumers, and our environment. It’s time to bury this failed approach. I just hope the administration is really listening to what was said today, and what citizens groups around the world have been saying for years. We need very different rules that enhance local economies and jobs and advance efforts to rebuild our food system so it is fair and sustainable,” according […]

Latest from key partners

WTO’s COOL Ruling confirms that trade treaties undermine national laws

ARC2020 UPDATE and Comment 28/05/2015 According to leaked EU Commission documents mandatory origin labeling for food will not be introduced. While there is already a voluntary label on mainstream meat products, both milk products and other meat products (such as “horse meat, rabbit and game”) will also only be eligible for the voluntary label. There will be no mandatory label for any meat or milk or processed foods now, according to the ViEUws report, because this would lead to “higher operating costs and a hike in food prices…it would also “disrupt cross boarder trade and increase costs”. So, reports ViEUws, the EU is likely to keep this labeling as Voluntary. (See at  5 mins 51 sec in the recent ViEUws Brussels Briefing at end of this post). This is remarkably similar to the language and reasoning of the WTO, as outlined below by Shefali Sharma. This also points to significant regulatory harmonisation, a form of ISDS by the back door. Article by Shefali Sharma  of IATP. On May 8th, President Obama told a crowd in Oregon: […]

Recent updates

Stop Calling the TPP A Trade Agreement – It Isn’t

Stop Calling the TPP A Trade Agreement – It Isn’t. By Dave Johnson. This a message to activists trying to fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Stop calling the TPP a “trade” agreement. TPP is a corporate/investor rights agreement, not a “trade” agreement. “Trade” is a good thing; TPP is not. Every time you use the word “trade” in association with the TPP, you are helping the other side. “Trade” is a propaganda word. It short-circuits thinking. People hear “trade” and the brain stops working. People think, “Of course, trade is good.” And that ends the discussion. Calling TPP a “trade” agreement lets the pro-TPP people argue that TPP is about trade instead of what it is really about. It diverts attention from the real problem. It enables advocates to say things like, “95 percent of the world lives outside the U.S.” as if that has anything to do with TPP. It lets them say, “We know that exports support American jobs” to sell a corporate rights agreement. It enables them to say nonsense like this about […]