TTIP Update 4

TTIP Update 4

Date: 29 October 2014

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) divides Europe

Objection to the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP and CETA (the Canada-EU trade deal) has been growing daily. Commentators in the Financial Times and The Economist have questioned the need for ISDS, with The Economist stating “IF YOU wanted to convince the public that international trade agreements are a way to let multinational companies get rich at the expense of ordinary people, this is what you would do: give foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes a law to, say, discourage smoking, protect the environment or prevent a nuclear catastrophe.

The new Commission President elect, Jean-Claude Juncker, put on record in a speech on 22 October his concerns about ISDS. He might have gone further had he not received a letter on 21 October signed by the UK government and 13 other member states telling Mr Juncker to ignore any concerns and ‘stick to the mandate’. The letter was not signed by Germany, France or Austria, which have serious misgivings about ISDS.

The UK-supported letter claims that concerns about ISDS are based on ‘misconceptions’. But the Financial Times reported that “This has all the makings of proper row that could have widespread implications. One potential casualty could well be the long-delayed Canadian deal.” CETA is due to go before the EU Council in the coming months and does contain an ISDS mechanism.

EU TTIP ‘mandate’ finally published

Under growing pressure from civil society across the EU about the lack of transparency of the TTIP negotiations, the EU Council finally agreed to publish the secret negotiating mandate for TTIP on 9 October. Although the mandate had been leaked a long time ago, we now formally have the document, which explains the nature and scope of TTIP, including general principles and objectives.

Calls for greater transparency were joined by the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, at the end of July when she opened two investigations into the EU Council and Commission over a lack of transparency around TTIP. We are pushing for much greater transparency in the negotiations, including the publications of negotiating texts.

Day of action against TTIP, CETA and TiSA across Europe and self-organising European Citizens’ petition

11 October saw protests on TTIP, CETA (the EU / Canada trade deal) and TiSA (the trade in services agreement) take to the streets of Europe.Opposition to these trade agreements has been growing as more and more people become aware of the secret negotiations and the negative implications these deals have for many aspects of ordinary people’s lives.

Following the European Commission’s rejection of the European Citizen’s Initiative formal petition on TTIP and CETA, as well as challenging that decision in the courts, a group of civil society organisations decided to go-ahead with their own petition. At the time of writing over 700,000 people had signed that petition in just under 2 weeks, a reflection of the widespread EU wide opposition to these deals. We aim to meet the criteria for a successful ECI (possibly in the quickest timescale in history) even if it doesn’t have official authorisation.