TTIP Resolution Vote June 10th 2015

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.

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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):

Amendment 27

"...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..."

Amendment 115

"... 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:

 http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/peoples-concerns-over-ttip-must-be-heard

 http://labourlist.org/2015/06/how-do-you-build-a-majority-against-secret-tribunals-for-multinationals-in-the-european-parliament/

 http://leftfootforward.org/2015/06/we-must-engage-with-ttip-or-else-risk-being-shut-out/

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.

Reactions

commented 2015-06-10 15:16:47 +0100
CLIMATE CHANGE: Why the International Trade Committee’s report recommendations are unacceptable for our climate.

Julie it’s great to have you as an MEP for the NW because your aims share similarities with ours (i.e. with those of your constituents who have studied TTIP). Unfortunately the positions of your Labour MEP colleagues that you give in your statement are inconsistent with your aims you state in the same statement. I’ve shown that in my other ‘reaction’ re an alternative court system, whether named “ISDS” or re-badged. I hope you can persuade your colleagues to amend their positions to comply with your constituent-friendly ones! Best of luck to you in that. But NB:

You also write that “Last week Labour MEPs supported a report by the International Trade committee”. Unfortunately this report by INTA is unacceptably bad for our climate as it will boost carbon emissions:

The INTA report shares with TTIP and CETA the push for liberalization and promotion of free trade and investment in fossil fuels. This it puts above our much more urgent and vital need to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions, which will mean leaving 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground to have any chance of keeping global temperature rise to below the internationally agreed 2 degrees C since pre-industrial levels (we are now at +0.85 degrees C).

This I quote from the European Parliament News on the INTA report, which shows how climate goals are undermined:

“More access to US energy resources: The TTIP should abolish “any existing restrictions or impediments of export for fuels, including LNG and crude oil” between the EU and the US, so that the deal adds to EU energy security and reduces energy prices, say MEPs. The TTIP deal should include a specific energy chapter, which must also help maintain the EU’s environmental standards and climate action goals, they add.”

Source: Europarl European Parliament News ‘TTIP more US market access, reform investment protection, retain EU standards’
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20150528IPR60432/html/TTIP-more-US-market-access-reform-investment-protection-retain-EU-standards Note how the two sentences contradict each other, because the first sentence goes against climate action goals in a very big way:

This is not just because the first sentence promotes the free trade liberalization of fossil fuels, obviously bad in itself as the more such fuels are traded the more they are burnt, but also because those fossil fuels produced in the USA and Canada have a higher ‘life-cycle carbon emissions intensity’ than those from the diminishing ‘conventional’ sources of fossil fuels. For example:

- US fracked gas has an extra double whammy of added emissions, because not only do we get that from LNG conversion (which we get from gas from the Middle East but not from Norway), but also because the low regulatory standards for fracking in the USA and Canada result in added “fugitive emissions” of methane, which can up the life-cycle emissions from about half that of coal to near to coal. For the US to export such gas it would need to build new LNG conversion infrastructure – an expensive and long-term investment which would be climate insanity for us to be “locked-in” to.

- The US refineries, as well as the tar sands industry in Canada (hence a motive for CETA), wish to export tar sands products to Europe. Tar sands oil (bitumen) has a much higher life cycle emissions intensity than conventional oil. Studies such as by University College London, have already put the tar sands into the 80% of fossil fuel reserves that must remain in the ground for us to keep within our +2 degrees carbon budget. And then there are the extra emissions from US fracked oil to consider…

These impacts are described in more detail by Samuel Lowe of FoE here: https://www.foe.co.uk/blog/why-eu-us-trade-agreement-could-be-bad-climate

Furthermore, the ‘energy security’ argument which fossil fuel supporters so love, is flawed, because there is a much greater long-term energy security in the combination of demand reduction measures and clean green renewable energy than in increasing dependence on fossil fuels. The Russian threat to gas supplies is a great opportunity to go for the green alternatives, which have the added benefit of being so much less reliant on imports (no need to pay to import wind, sun, currents and waves!). Self-sufficiency without fossil imports has been shown to be possible by such studies as CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain. One good example is the great scope for reducing gas demand for heating by insulation of buildings. Also see appended references by Tony Bosworth FoE and Prof Michael Bradshaw, in which Prof Bradshaw states: “The best way to reduce the energy security risks associated with the UK’s growing gas import dependence is to … promote renewable power generation, improve energy efficiency and reduce overall energy demand.”

There are at least several items of text in the INTA report which give primacy to the exploitation, trade and use of fossil fuels above our more vital need to combat climate change:
For example: text at F on page 4 and 1.(d)(vii) & (viii) on p.14 Here’s a link to the report:
http://www.marietjeschaake.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-05-28-TTIP-report-A8-0175_2015_EN.pdf

In conclusion – the INTA report is unacceptable for climate change reasons on their own. -———————————————————————————————————————————

Useful refs re the ‘energy security’ argument:

Forget fracking – efficiency and renewables are the key to energy security – by Tony Bosworth of FoE in The Ecologist.
http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2885951/forget_fracking_efficiency_and_renewables_are_the_key_to_energy_security.html
And his reference to Prof Bradshaw’s report: “Energy security expert Professor Michael Bradshaw summed this up well in a prescient report he wrote for Friends of the Earth three years ago: “The best way to reduce the energy security risks associated with the UK’s growing gas import dependence is to … promote renewable power generation, improve energy efficiency and reduce overall energy demand.”

Other useful references ‘Why the EU-US trade agreement could be bad for the climate’ Sam Lowe, 15sep14, Friends of the Earth. https://www.foe.co.uk/blog/why-eu-us-trade-agreement-could-be-bad-climate Note: “could be” is an understatement; “is already” could be stated, as pressure from the US trade representative added to that of Canada/CETA in “putting the boot in” to the climate legislation in EU’s Fuel Quality Directive which has now been diluted to almost ineffectiveness. FoE submission to Parliamentary select committee the EAC on environmental impacts of TTIP, including on climate: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environmental-audit-committee/the-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership/written/17650.html

‘The impact of “Free Trade Agreements” such as TTIP and CETA on climate change’ submission by Dr Henry Adams to the Parliamentary EAC review on TTIP: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environmental-audit-committee/the-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership/written/17682.html On intrinsic threats of ISDS, and impact of ISDS, TTIP and CETA on democracy, climate and environment – briefing statement to Tim Farron MP by Dr Henry Adams:

http://www.dragonfly1.plus.com/TTIP-CETA-ISDS-briefing-summary-for-Tim-Farron-by-Henry-Adams.pdf
More recent ref on this topic:
commented 2015-06-10 14:47:47 +0100
The Amendment 115 – which includes a proposed compromise for an alternative separate court system for TNC’s/foreign investors:

Re-badging under a different name than ISDS does not fool us, because such a proposal retains some of the intrinsic threats in ISDS. For example:
- It acts in one direction: investors to state, thus excluding state to investor, us as citizens to investor, NGOs representing citizens rights to investor…
- It still threatens to give legal primacy for profits over public interests, the latter including human rights, democratic principles, health and safety, labour rights, environment including climate, wildlife…
115 is thus dangerously flawed.

Amendment 115 has quite rightly been described by GJN – Global Justice Now – as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Here I quote from GJN’s website:

“The second amendment (currently 115) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On the face of it, it sounds similar, rhetorically rejecting ISDS and talking about the need for domestic courts to be “respected”. However, it still proposes a “permanent solution” to the problem of corporates thinking that they shouldn’t be bound by judgements issued by domestic courts. It also leaves the wording on finding a new system to replace ISDS intact. In other words, it rejects ISDS by name, but leaves the door open to accepting a ‘non-ISDS’ international arbitration court along the lines of what has been proposed by Malmström.

If the first amendment goes through, the writing will be on the wall for ISDS. If the second amendment passes instead, then efforts to rebrand ISDS will intensify, possibly leading to the creation of a permanent international tribunal. This would open up a mechanism for letting corporate profit be better protected in law than, say, human rights. Remember, the UK could repeal the Human Rights Act and even pull out of the European Convention of Human Rights, but we will be bound to participate in this new international court of corporate rights by treaty."

Source: http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/blog/2015/jun/8/five-things-watch-out-wednesday%E2%80%99s-key-vote-ttip

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