As you may know already, having looked at this page, or followed my activity as an MEP, I have been greatly concerned by TTIP, and like fellow Labour MEPs, I am fully opposed to ISDS. I will be voting accordingly at the Plenary vote on June 10th.
This is a subject I have been especially concerned about, and have been vocal in my concerns to fellow MEPs, to civil society groups, and to constituents I have met or have already been in communication with. I firmly believe that any trade deal must put people and planet first, as per the Alternative Trade Mandate, and that any strategy for economic growth must be for sustainable and socially inclusive growth.
The votes on Wednesday June 10th in the European Parliament on TTIP aim at giving a clear view from the European Parliament to EU negotiators on what would or would not be acceptable to MEPs and their constituents in the final TTIP deal. The vote will be a guide to them as they negotiate TTIP over the coming years. NB: It is important to note that negotiations will take place regardless as the European Council (heads of Member States) and EU Council of Ministers are committed to increasing trade.
This is not a vote for or against TTIP itself. Only once the final text is presented to the European Parliament will MEPs have the chance to support or oppose the deal. Until this happens - and it will probably take years before negotiations are concluded - there is no TTIP to vote for or against. MEPs have no formal powers while trade negotiations are ongoing: we can only vote yes or no to the entire deal once negotiations are concluded. Crucially, we cannot stop negotiations either. So we will judge the TTIP by its merits, and in the meantime try to influence the negotiations so that all of our (and your) concerns are properly addressed.
I personally have been sceptical about TTIP, and have encouraged civil society groups and citizens in all walks of life to be aware and vigilant about it. I will not support a TTIP deal which damages social or environmental standards, imposes privatisation, or hands democracy over to secretive private courts. This is a message that my fellow Labour and Socialist MEPs and myself have repeatedly put out.
Last week Labour MEPs supported a report by the International Trade committee, which is the text that will be put to vote in the European Parliament on 10 June. The text includes key protections for the NHS and public services and binding labour and environmental safeguards. It also clearly states that we will not accept any lowering of our food standards.
Importantly, it states that we trust national courts in the case of investor protection disputes, as opposed to special ISDS tribunals. Although the report doesn't go far enough on ISDS, it is an important step in the right direction. We will now try to strengthen the reports’ provisions against ISDS, to make it absolutely clear that the European Parliament refuses to have it in TTIP.
Labour MEPs have therefore tabled amendments that explicitly rule out ISDS from any trade deal with the US. The amendments read as follows (in italics):
"...to ensure that foreign investors are treated in a non-discriminatory fashion and have a fair opportunity to seek and achieve redress of grievances, while benefiting from no greater rights than domestic investors; to oppose the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in TTIP, as other options to enforce investment protection are available, such as domestic remedies..."
"... to propose a permanent solution for resolving disputes between investors and states – without the use of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) private arbitration – which is subject to democratic principles and scrutiny..."
For more information on TTIP, ISDS and what we are trying to achieve, and the following links to articles by fellow Labour MEPs who lead on trade for our European Parliament delegation:
Trade is neither bad nor good, but there is good trade and bad trade. Labour is firmly committed to changing the rules of global trade, for the benefit of the people and the planet. I have personally supported the Alternative Trade Mandate as well as Fairtrade networks. Labour stands for fair trade rather than free trade. We want to put an end to social dumping, protect jobs and wages at home while promoting human rights abroad and rebalance north-south relations. To do that, we must seize every opportunity we have to set a new agenda. Current debates about TTIP represent such an opportunity, and that’s why Labour is not ruling it out at this stage. If we fail to get the agreement that we want, we can always veto the deal in the end. But there would be no excuse for not trying. On Wednesday, together with my Labour colleagues, I will vote to try to reset the TTIP agenda.
For any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office.