(updated 28/05/2015, 30/05/2015 and 01/06/2015)
The European Parliament’s trade committee today adopted a weak resolution on the parliament’s position on TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This disappointing resolution was adopted by what sources describe as a “grand coalition” of centre, centre right and centre left groupings. It failed to include any criticism of the controversial ISDS investor protection mechanism.
According to Friends of the Earth Europe, the draft resolution, which is to be debated in plenary on 10 June “is the unique opportunity for the European Parliament to give its opinion on the on-going trade talks between the EU and the US.”
Friends of the Earth Europe however “condemned the outcome of the vote as a weak resolution failing to draw clear red lines on some of the biggest dangers of the proposed trade deal”.
Because of today’s adoption, the resolution itself will be only include very weak language, language which in no significant way reflects the depth of citizen concern and anger at TTIP and, especially, ISDS – Investor-State Dispute Settlement – the clause for Member States to be sued by Corporations for lost profit potential.
While the specific language of ISDS has been adjusted to the language of an International Public Court, in essence no substantive changes have been made.
What was adopted instead will “build on the concept paper recently presented by Commissioner Malmström to INTA Committee on May 7; ” and take “into account the EU’s and the US’ developed legal systems…trust the courts of the EU and of the Member States and of the United States to provide effective legal protection”.
However no mechanism for providing this protection in an ISDS context is suggested or offered.
Transport and Environment, which represents around 50 organisations across Europe, mostly environmental groups and campaigners, said “The European Parliament’s trade committee today decided that Europe’s national courts cannot be trusted with safeguarding the rights of international investors when it called for private arbitration to be retained in the EU-US trade deal. MEPs voted for the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause (ISDS) – though repackaged under a different name for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”
Transport & Environment is a a member of the Commission’s Advisory Group on TTIP. In a statement it said “that by backing ISDS the trade committee displays a lack of trust in European judicial systems, socialises private risks, and deters future EU laws to protect citizens and the environment. The vote marks a U-turn by MEPs after the Parliament’s environment committee said no to ISDS because of its chilling effect on regulation and that national courts would continue to vindicate the rights of international investors.”
Cécile Toubeau, sustainable trade officer at T&E, added: “In the clash between lobbyists and the public interest, INTA MEPs side with the former by backing this deeply flawed private arbitration system. Not only do they not trust our courts, they are also willing to have Europeans pay for the private risks of big business, and tie the hands of future EU lawmakers by providing a implicit deterrent to public-interest regulation.”
Inside the Parliament
Parliamentary sources have described this as a capitulation by the Socialist grouping, and an 80% victory for the right wing EPP – European People’s Party.
After the vote, Greens/EFA trade spokesperson Yannick Jadot said:
“Instead of using the resolution to help give voice to this concern, Socialist MEPs have rowed in behind the centre-right and ensured a tame and sanitised outcome, notably on the controversial issue of an ISDS investor to state dispute settlement mechanism. This resolution remains a proposal from the trade committee however and we hope Socialist MEPs will rediscover their critical outlook when parliament votes as a whole in its June plenary session.”
The names of the Socialist (S&D) MEPs voting
in favour will be known by tomorrow (All names now listed below)
This vote is the result of trading between the EPP – European People’s Party and the S&D’s, according to sources. These sources also suggest that the EPP has “bought this compromise on ISDS from S&D in exchange for retiring its threat to challenge other Compromises and Amendments, specifically CAM 38 on making ILO labour norms “binding and enforceable”. “
Moreover, this represents a departure from the S&D position held as recently as March. In their position paper from March, they said “The S&D Group opposes the inclusion of ISDS in Trade Agreements in which other options to enforce investment protection are available, whether domestic or international. In agreements with countries that have fully functioning legal systems and in which no risks of political interference in the judiciary or denial of justice have been identified, ISDS is not necessary.”
The language above in the S&D position paper is strikingly similar to the language actually suggested by the Greens, left wing GNU and euroskeptic EFDD groups. These groups had requested language that gave investors from outside the EU “no greater substantive and procedural rights than domestic investors.” They also suggested the resolution include the following: “oppose the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP, as other options to enforce investment protection are available, such as domestic remedies”…”the given level of investment protection in the EU and the US is fully sufficient to guarantee legal security.”
Jadot added “There is a growing public outcry against enabling corporations to use extra-juridical tribunals to challenge state authorities and democratically-decided legislation. This was reflected in the votes of a number of other parliamentary committees, which adopted opinions on TTIP that included outright rejection of ISDS”
This is a reference to the fact that the European Parliament committees on employment, environment, legal affairs, constitutional affairs and petitions all adopted opinion reports which called for the rejection of ISDS.
The June plenary – a full vote in the European Parliament – is a main upcoming focus of campaigners who oppose TTIP.
According to Natacha Cingotti of Friends of the Earth Europe “We call on the plenary of the European Parliament to oppose this Trojan horse treaty by rejecting the resolution. MEPs should stand with European citizens, not with the corporate-led agenda of the transatlantic negotiations that are a threat to our societies and our environment”.
Here’s what each political grouping suggested for this resolution (opens .doc) 150528 ISDS CAMs final
How did your representative vote? (opens .pdf) Roll call votes 28-05-15
Recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
Voted for: 28
ALDE Dita Charanzová, Marietje Schaake, Cecilia Wikström, Marielle de Sarnez
ECR Sander Loones, Emma McClarkin, Evžen Tošenovský
PPE Daniel Caspary, Christofer Fjellner, Seán Kelly, Gabriel Mato, Artis Pabriks, Franck Proust, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Tokia Saïfi, Adam Szejnfeld, Adina-Ioana Vălean, Jarosław Wałęsa, Iuliu Winkler
S&D Goffredo Maria Bettini, Theresa Griffin, Jude Kirton-Darling, Bernd Lange, Jörg Leichtfried, David Martin, Alessia Maria Mosca, Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández, Joachim Schuster
Voted against: 13
ECR Joachim Starbatty
EFDD Tiziana Beghin, David Borrelli, William (The Earl of) Dartmouth
GUE/NGL Eleonora Forenza, Anne-Marie Mineur, Helmut Scholz
NI Georgios Epitideios, Franz Obermayr, Matteo Salvini
S&D Emmanuel Maurel
VERTS/ALE Yannick Jadot, Ska Keller