Trade committee ignores two million people on TTIP

Today the INTA committee met to decide what opinion should be placed before the plenary session of the European parliament regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), including the status of investor protection (ISDS).

Seeing as the decision today was to present options to a non-binding vote of the European parliament, one might have thought it useful to present alternatives that would express the wishes of millions of EU citizens.

Remember in January this year, the EU Commission published their response to the consultation on ISDS in TTIP. 97% of the 150,000 responses opposed ISDS. Today, the Socialist and Democrats (S&D) group ignored them.

After the EU Commission refused permission for a European Citizens’ initiative (ECI) on TTIP in September 2014, a self-organised ECI was set up. It is only a matter of days before that petition hits 2 million signatures, making it the biggest petition in the EU’s history. The S&D group ignored those signatories too.

It is instructive to look at the output of the S&D's "@theprogressives" Twitter account. They are crowing about how they opposed ISDS in TTIP. They claim they voted for a “new public court with democratic scrutiny, public hearings & appellate mechanism” and that the “end of ISDS is near”.

When one looks at what they agreed to without the lense of self-congratulation and hyperbole, you can see what they have agreed to is EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom’s reformed ISDS idea. It will still provide corporations with their own court system, still say the corporate world needs different and preferential legal rights to the rest of society.

When Philip Morris and BAT filed papers in the High Court in London on Friday last week, suing the UK Government to the tune of £11bn for their plan to introduce plain packaging of cigarettes in 2017, they showed that cases that would otherwise be pursued through ISDS could indeed be fought in ‘normal’ courts. Undoubtedly they would have preferred the cosy environment of a secret three man (and it usually is men) ISDS tribunal.

They would have stood a better chance through an ISDS challenge, without judges who have some form of public accountability to maintain., “The Progressives” have held open a door to Philip Morris and their ilk in order to provide them with the mechanisms they desire in order to extract compensation from Governments who might oppose their excesses. They should change their Twitter handle at the very least, they should then try to understand what the words “opposition”, “socialist” and “democrat” actually mean. They should reflect on the delight registered by the EPP (Conservative) group at the outcome of today’s vote.

This means that we need to redouble our efforts to get a truly progressive vote on 10 June. We understand that MEPs will have the chance to table further amendments for that plenary session. We need to ensure we get as many people as possible to voice their concerns with the prospect of a corporate friendly ‘trade deal’ that will cost us all dearly.

If you’ve got a spare minute, you can email your local MEPs about the 10 June vote by clicking here.

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