Tuesday, July 14, 2015

European Parliament rejects secret courts as part of TTIP deal

The European Parliament research service recently posted the following summary of its recommendations to the European Commission over the transatlantic trade deal negotiations. The parliament reasserts the need to maintain EU health and safety standards. It also demands an open mechanism for dispute resolution rather than the much-condemned ISDS. Finally, it emphasises that the treaty can in the end be blocked by the EP if its conditions are not met.

The European Parliament takes citizens’ concerns on TTIP very seriously. Thus it is following the talks very closely to ensure that the agreement’s benefits do not come at an unacceptable cost. That is why MEPs will scrutinise and debate any text that emerges from the negotiation process before approving or not the EU-US trade deal.

Recommendations to the European Commission

TTIP: EP recommendations for an EU-US trade deal
© Wolfisch / Fotolia
The European Parliament adopted on 8 July 2015 itsrecommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). According to these recommendations an EU-US trade deal must open up US market access for EU firms, but must not undermine EU standards, as explained in the respective Parliament press release.
An EU-US agreement needs to ensure “the highest levels of protection of health and safety in line with the precautionary principle laid down in Article 191 TFEU, consumer, labour environmental and animal welfare legislation and of cultural diversity that exists in the EU”, MEPs write in their recommendations to the TTIP negotiators.

No to ISDS

Furthermore, the Parliament requests “to replace the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system with a new system for resolving disputes between investors and states which is subject to democratic principles and scrutiny, where potential cases are treated in a transparent manner by publicly appointed, independent professional judges in public hearings and which includes an appellate mechanism, where consistency of judicial decisions is ensured, the jurisdiction of courts of the EU and of the Member States is respected, and where private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives.”

Negotiation process

From the very beginning of the negotiation process, Parliament underscored European values and standards that it wishes to see upheld in the course of the talks as outlined in its resolution of 23 May 2013, adopted before the trade negotiations started.
As with all free trade agreements, the European Commission is negotiating the agreement on the basis of negotiating directivesissued by the EU governments, which were finally declassified.
At the European Parliament’s insistence, the European Commission committed to enhanced transparency and agreed to publish the EU position documents. It also decided to grant all MEPs access to the restricted negotiating documents with the use of a special ‘reading room’. They are not allowed to share these documents publicly but they can get an insight into the progress of the talks.
The European Parliament does not take part in these negotiations, but there can be no final agreement without its approval. Parliament has to either approve or reject the final text, although it is not legally able to modify its provisions. However, by drawing up recommendations on agreements such as TTIP, Parliament sends a message on what it wants to see in the final agreement.

Further information

Parliament has launched the specialised webpages ‘The European Parliament and the TTIP‘ and ‘TTIP: risks and opportunities‘.
Working documents and information about the current state of play in the negotiations are available on the Commission’s TTIP webpage.

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