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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