Major vote on controversial EU-US trade deal is postponed – why?

[Image: Touchstone blog]

[Image: Touchstone blog]

This blog reported yesterday on a European Parliament vote due to take place today, that could have removed the controversial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ – the power for corporations to sue governments – from the even more controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership plan between the EU and the US.

It is proof of the obsessively secretive way that negotiations over the TTIP have been carried out that – at the time yesterday’s piece was being written – the vote had already been postponed.

According to Unite the Union’s Touchstone blog, several explanations have been put forward. The official version – to reduce the number of amendments put forward from 116 – is dubious, as in fact most were likely to be taken off the table to allow the Parliament to discuss the heart of the matter – whether the controversial ISDS mechanism should be allowed to remain part of the deal.

No new date has been set for a future vote.

If it had gone ahead today (Wednesday, June 10) then it is likely the European Parliament would have demanded wholesale changes in the negotiating mandate – originally secret – that Trade Ministers in EU member states gave to the European Commission when the TTIP negotiations started in 2013.

Touchstone is optimistic about the latest development: “Delaying the vote will only make public opposition to TTIP and ISDS clearer and more influential. And if the vote is delayed until September (as some think it might), that would deal a fatal blow to the hopes expressed by world leaders at last weekend’s G7 summit for TTIP negotiations to be all but over by the end of 2015.

“It’s very difficult now to find MEPs willing to back ISDS outright, which is one reason why the controversy has moved on to Trade Commissioner Malmstrom’s ISDS-lite proposal. But we should be celebrating the extent of the opposition to ISDS itself. Eighteen months ago, unions and other civil society groups had to force the European Commission to consult about ISDS, and that consultation was initially only about what form of ISDS to propose. Now popular opposition to ISDS has been replicated among MEPs, and the smokescreen of a ‘diet-ISDS’ is being blown away.

“Whenever the eventual vote on the Parliament’s resolution on TTIP is taken, we need to redouble our efforts to get MEPs – especially in the Conservative Party – to vote against ISDS, as well as for the exclusion of public services like health and education and a ‘positive list’ approach to protect those public services; no reduction in regulatory protections; and binding and enforceable workers’ rights.”

This blog published a link to a site that shows which UK MEPs have already indicated they will support the amendment that rejects ISDS (Amendment 27), and provides a list of undecided MEPs with links to their twitter accounts so you can tweet them. If you are concerned about TTIP/ISDS, then you should still contact your MEPs.

If you don’t know the names of your MEPs, or don’t have a Twitter account, you may be better off looking up their names and contact details on the European Parliament’s website.

Vox Political will keep you updated on any developments – just as soon as it is possible to prise them out of those in the know.

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