MEP group rejects controversial TTIP trade dispute system – almost unanimously

12/07/2014 - Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP - Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London [Image: Huffington Post].

12/07/2014 – Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London [Image: Huffington Post].

The Labour Party has been instrumental in ensuring that a large group in the European Parliament has rejected any use of the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in trade deals with both the US (TTIP) and Canada (CETA).

The Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament adopted almost unanimously a position paper drafted by a working group headed by UK Labour Party MEPs including David Martin (chair), Jude Kirton-Darling (spokesperson on TTIP and CETA) and Richard Corbett (Labour’s Deputy Leader in the European Parliament).

The proposal was supported by 78 votes to five against.

“We have always been opposed to ISDS as a group, although we didn’t have a chance to adopt a formal decision on this matter since the last European elections in 2014,” said Mr Martin. “In doing so today, we are responding to the thousands of constituents and the many civil society organisations that have asked us to clarify our position.”

Jude Kirton-Darling added: “This decision … will prove to be a real game-changer, not only in the negotiations between the EU and the US but also with respect to the ratification of the Canada agreement.

The European Commission and Europe’s Conservatives will need our support in the end if they want to see TTIP through. Today, we are sending them a loud and clear message that we can only contemplate support if our conditions are met. One such condition is we do not accept the need to have private tribunals in TTIP.”

And Richard Corbett said: “Today the Labour Party has demonstrated that engaging with our neighbours across the EU yields tangible results in the interest of the general public. Labour were instrumental in securing this outcome, and this is a tribute to the hard work, commitment and resolve of Labour MEPs.”

This is an excellent result.

Vox Political has reported public opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership many times over the past few years, and it was clear that the main sticking-point was the intention to allow businesses to sue national government if legislation interfered with their ability to make a profit.

Allowing traders such power is clearly against the interests of the citizens of both the EU and the US (and Canada also, it seems). It would have made it possible for the Conservative Party, here in the UK, to lock its privatisation of the National Health Service into the way that service operates, because of an international agreement that would be binding to the UK.

Now it is clear that Labour – and its group in the European Parliament – will not accept that.

It is a welcome clarification that should silence the naysayers here in the UK, who have been quick to suggest that Labour retains too much of the neoliberalism that plagued the New Labour era, and actually supports moves that could exploit working people.

Any such claim has no credibility now.

Trade agreements between the EU, US and Canada are not inherently bad ideas – but they need to be written to benefit everybody involved, rather than just a few money-grubbing shopkeepers and industrialists.

With this agreement in place, we are a step closer to ensuring this is the case.

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25 thoughts on “MEP group rejects controversial TTIP trade dispute system – almost unanimously

  1. Stephen Bee

    Mike, It’s not over till the fat lady sings as they say…The Tories are the most evil, sneakiest, underhanded, cheating, snivelling masters of deception…if there’s a way around this assured they’ll find it! Having said that, I am breathing a medium sigh of relief at the news ..

  2. Jeffery Davies

    So why sign ttip at all its all for the yanks not needed has we trade with them anyway its to do with control for them there isnt anyneed to sign it throw it out jeff3

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Well it all depends, doesn’t it? If we end up with an agreement that pushes up the quality of goods on our shelves and improves workers’ conditions, it will have been worthwhile – and it would be wrong to suggest that this isn’t going to happen before the proposed agreement is actually announced. Once it is announced, it would be appropriate to discuss the benefits and drawbacks before any signatures go on paper, of course.

      1. Andy

        Very unlikely Mike. TTIP is just another vehicle to further exploitation of the masses by capitalism. You only have to look at what NAFTA has done to see that these trade deals only really benefit a small cabal of the super rich. Without the ISDS component TTIP isn’t going to be worth as much to the corporations who want it, they will put up a fight for it no doubt and we’ll either get a watered down version or it will be left to what already exists in the WTO which is far more transparent than the suggested ISDS component of TTIP. Of course there is still the ‘Mode 4’ component which will further diminish workers rights, pay and conditions. Even without these components there is nothing to say that every part of our infrastructure will not be up for grabs. TTIP should be completely opposed.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I said it would be wrong to suggest a good outcome is unlikely before the proposal is announced; you’ve done it anyway.
        I’ll leave it to readers to decide whether that was a good idea.

      3. bookmanwales

        This deal is not about pushing up the quality of goods nor is it about protecting or improving employment conditions. No other trade agreements have led to work or pay improvements and there is no reason to believe this one will either.
        This deal is purely an insurance guarantee for commercial interests that whatever legislation is enacted by any government their profits are protected.
        Regardless of any safety or health aspects profits are to be maintained and it will be us, the taxpayers, picking up the bill for shoddy / unsafe goods that are eventually banned.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        The YouTube clip that jaypot2012 mentioned includes David Martin (before the interruption) stating that Labour supports TTIP only if it drives up the quality of goods and employment conditions.

  3. M de Mowbray

    Great news. The Tories were DETERMINED to give too much power to Megacorps Inc and anything to help scupper Tory’s “New Feudalism” is a good thing.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes. It has to be approved by the European Parliament before going out to member states for ratification, if I recall correctly.

  4. Ath

    Definitely a step in the right direction, but labour has a very long way to go to even hint that it is not a neoliberal party. Adopting monetary reform would be a hint, changing the legislation requiring companies to value shareholders above all others would be a hint. Nobody called labour neoliberal, we call it neoliberal light, so gets rid of the worst aspects of neoliberalism without moving away from neoliberalism itself. Not until labour changes its stance on private ownership, and economic organisation, can you claim it is not neoliberal.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Many people called Labour neoliberal – perhaps you weren’t around for that.
      Labour’s stance on private ownership is changing – perhaps you’ve missed the press announcements on that.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        No – the article to which you’ve linked hinges on the interpretation of a single, rather poorly-constructed, sentence. The interpretation that supports what you’re suggesting runs against what is said in the rest of the document. It seems bizarre that anyone would suggest that the intent is not as previously stated, simply on this basis.

  5. Joan Edington

    This reminds me of a petition request I received form 38 Degrees just a week or so ago. It was asking that we demand that David Martin spoke up against TTIP, ISDS and for the exclusion of the NHS from any deal. It was accompanied by a link to a few seconds of a YouTube video of Martin losing the rag at, presumably, a 38 Degrees question.

    I emailed 38 degrees asking them why they were starting a petition demanding that David Martin spoke up for what I believe he has been backing as long as the issue has been around. I also asked why they had included the link to a few seconds of some event without any background information on what led up to the unfortunate and out-of-character outburst. Answer has come there none. I assume that there was some of the usual 38 Degrees heckling that has only got partial cover by the organisation in the past.

    I have subscribed to 38 Degrees for some years, since they appeared to be doing a lot of good work keeping issues in the public domain that would often have been sunk by the Tories. However, this vilification of someone I have always thought of as one of the few politicians of integrity left, is leading me to re-consider my views of 38 Degrees.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      How much heckling had been going on before that clip, though?
      I don’t think there’s enough information to tell us anything. It could be misleading – and I notice you’re against the media doing that. Allow me to quote from your own, immediately-preceding comment: “An awful lot of people are actually quite thick and believe anything that is on the BBC news, as well as other broadcasting corporations. They believe everything that they see and hear on tv and read in their grubby newspapers. Because most people haven’t got the nous to listen and question anything and everything.”

    2. Joan Edington

      Jaypot, I think your support of the SNP is blinkering you to the fact that not ALL Labour politicians are like the current band of Scottish Labour. I am still trying to find out a bit more about the circumstances of David Martin’s unprofessional, but out-of-charcter outburst and have not been successful neither with 38 Degrees nor any of the media, MSN or online. Since this few seconds was videoed I assume more of the session in question was as well. Why have only these few seconds been released? If you know any more of the background than I do, please would you let us know? If you are in the dark, as I am, give a little bit of leeway to a fairly dedicated MEP who actually attends and works well for us in the EU, unlike certain others that I could mention.
      PS. In case you haven’t noticed, I was a Yes voter and am an SNP supporter in principal. However, it does not stop me recognising the good points in other individual party members, if not the parties.

  6. jaypot2012

    Oh, and no matter what, I still say NO to TTIP – we already trade with the US, Canada and the rest of the world, so we don’t need TTIP for anything. It’s for large corporations and those with money who want to take over the way crops are grown, what antibiotics are to be used, the killing of bees and nature, all for greed and very like this lot in power in the UK.

  7. amnesiaclinic

    I do agree with you, Jaypot. I have had some reservations about 38degrees as the action about the NHS was about stopping the privatisation which has already enviscerated it. Also. taking out the NHS from the TTIP negotiations is pretty meaningless – it is the TTIP which needs to be stopped.
    The multinationals will find a way around anything we try to limit unless we stop the whole thing. The whole way it has been proposed in secret and carried out has been a disgrace.

  8. JohnDee

    It’s not just the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that is so evil.

    TTIP is also intended to bypass the stricter (European and others’) safety regulations in such areas of food, agribiz, drugs, labour rights, etc.

    Any European reservations / exceptions are unlikely to be applied for the rest of the world’s signatories who’s citizens the US is similarly trying to shaft.

    The intent is to ‘converge’ global regulations incrementally over time once they have a foot in the door.

    We already have plenty of agreement on international trade – what’s the hidden agenda?

    Why such elaborate secrecy?

    Find out from the Seattle to Brussels Network’s detailed expose of what little we know of the secret plans being hatched:
    “A Brave New Transatlantic Partner”:

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