10 June 2015
The major TTIP vote that was due to take place this week has been postponed by the European Parliament at the last minute. The debate, due to happen at the same time, has also been postponed.
The official reason given for the cancellation, given by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, was the large number of amendments and requests for split and separate votes that have been tabled.
His statement in full reads;
“In view of the fact that more than 200 amendments and requests for split or separate votes have been tabled to the Lange report on TTIP, the President has decides, in accordance with Rule 175 and after consulting the Chair of the INTA committee, to ask the committee to meet to consider the amendments and requests tabled to the plenary. Therefore, the plenary vote on the report, scheduled for noon tomorrow, Wednesday, will not take place.”
French Green Yannick Jadot described this as a “manipulation” of Parliament rules by Schultz.
He said; “The European Parliament’s establishment is in panic that the vote on the EP’s TTIP resolution will reveal the clear divisions within the larger political groups on the controversial EU-US negotiations. EP president Schulz has pulled a fast one and used an underhand administrative procedure to postpone tomorrow’s vote and prevent these divisions from being put on the record, notably as regards the highly contentions ISDS investor protection mechanism.
Yannick highlighted the role of the campaign against TTIP; “This division within the European Parliament on TTIP is a major turnaround from the last time MEPs voted on the issue 2 years ago and shows that the significant and mounting public pressure is bearing fruit. It is important that this pressure from the public and civil society is maintained”.
On Monday, a European Citizens’ Initiative “Stop TTIP” reached two million signatures in 14 countries – a new record, and double the amount of signatures needed for the EU commission to be obliged to examine a legislative reaction. The EU recently found 97% of the 150,000 European Citizens it consulted to be opposed to ISDS.
Yet, all this was ignored when the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) led by the Socialist and Democrat group of MEPs agreed to a shabby compromise resolution supporting TTIP.
In the words of Keith Ewing and John Hendy; “Socialist and Democratic majority of MEPs on the International Trade Committee having been formerly totally opposed to ISDS have reversed their position. The Committee resolved to accept that ISDS is to remain part of TTIP – though it avoids use of the name “ISDS”. It confronts the problem of secrecy of ISDS private arbitration by lawyers by proposing that ISDS should be, in the long term, conducted by publicly appointed, independent professional judges in public hearings. “In the medium term, a public International Investment Court” is proposed as the acceptable form of ISDS.
“Those proposals would certainly improve on the standard ISDS mechanisms already built into the EU trade agreements with Canada (CETA), South Korea and Singapore – and dozens of other EU international trade agreements.
“But in reaching their compromise, the Committee seems to have blinded itself to the fundamental flaw in any form of ISDS. The elephant in the room, invisible to the Committee, is evident in the very name “Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement” procedure. It reflects the extraordinary nature of ISDS. The multinational corporations seeking profit (“investing”) in the States to be covered by the agreement make a jaw-droppingly arrogant demand of those very States. They seek the unique legal privilege of a special procedure to enable them – and no-one else – to bring claims for alleged breach of the agreement. And such claims are to be against … those very States!”
Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, a social justice group campaigning against TTIP, commented; “The TTIP vote being postponed as a result of the large number of amendments reflects just how controversial and contested this toxic trade deal has become. Despite being under enormous pressure from corporate lobbyists, MEPs know that the people of Europe do not want the introduction of secret corporate courts and do want to protect vital public services as well as environmental and labour regulations.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The European Parliament must use this resolution to send a clear signal to the TTIP negotiators in the Commission that trade must be in the public interest, not for private profit.
“There must be no ISDS or any special court system for investors, clear protections for public services and no lowering of standards for workers, consumers and the environment. If the resolution does not contain these protections, MEPs must vote against it.”