As those who have followed the intricate debates around TTIP will know, the European Parliament's vote on its Resolution on TTIP was postponed last month, to take place in the July plenary session instead. Given the high number of amendments tabled to the plenary, and last minute talks between the political Groups, the President of the Parliament made a controversial last-minute decision to postpone the vote, in accordance with the Parliament's rules of procedure. Labour MEPs spoke out strongly against the postponement, having wanted to express our position on TTIP there and then.
A month on, European Parliament will now set out what we will and won't accept in the final TTIP text if and when it is adopted. This is one of the most significant means at our disposal to ensure that TTIP negotiators take the public’s concerns into account. The vote on this resolution will take place on Wednesday 8th of July.
The text of the Resolution does meet many of our demands, which is the result of hard work by Labour and Socialist MEPs. The Resolution makes clear demands of the protection for public services, such as health and education, as well as higher labour protection and environmental standards, regulation on financial services and transatlantic data flows.
However, unfortunately, on the most controversial issue in TTIP, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), there has been a slide backwards. Labour MEPs have consistently opposed the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP. Given the threat that such a mechanism would pose to democratic accountability, we have made clear we would not support the trade deal if such a mechanism was included in it.
Whereas in the last plenary the amendment on ISDS that we were set to vote on made our opposition to ISDS crystal clear, a new compromise amendment has now been tabled, agreed with the Conservatives and the centre-right. That amendment calls for ISDS to be "replaced" by a public international settlement system, and omits the primary role that was set out for national courts in dispute settlement, which was included in the previous text.
To Labour MEPs, including myself, this is not good enough: ISDS-lite is still ISDS. My Labour MEPs and I will vote against this new ISDS amendment, and will also vote against the Resolution as a whole if that amendment is adopted. For more information on the state of play ahead of the vote, read this article by Labour's spokesperson on TTIP, Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour MEP for the North-East.
I have personally been greatly concerned about TTIP, and the risks it could potentially pose to democratic accountability, labour and environmental standards, and our public services. As a champion of the Alternative Trade Mandate, I would like to see a global trade model that puts people and planet first, and enables us to make our economy more sustainable. As such, I have met with many constituents, NGOs and campaign groups on the subject, will continue to listen, and raise an alternative voice. Like you, I will also remain concerned and vigilant.
Labour and Social Democrat MEPs have been trying to re-set the agenda for TTIP, to secure an agreement that raises labour, consumer, and environmental standards, guarantees transparency and democratic controls, and protects public services. Those efforts will be reflected in the way my Labour colleagues and I vote on Wednesday the 8th.