The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has featured on this blog several times before. Today, just for a change, there is some good news on this topic.
The European Commission launched a consultation on this issue in the summer of 2014. You can read more on this on my previous posts here and here. In summary, the European Commission was totally overwhelmed by the number of responses (around 150000) and it has taken them until now to analyse them. But it has been worth the wait.
On 13 January 2015 they finally released the report on the consultation. Celia Malmström, the Trade Commissioner, says in the covering statement on their website: “The consultation clearly shows that there is a huge scepticism against the ISDS instrument”.
So they have suspended the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) mechanism from the negotiations with the US pending further discussions with the European Parliament, Member States and other stakeholders (including NGOs).
This is excellent news. But we haven’t won the battle completely. The crux is really the Member States and the US. First, the US has been adamant in other trade deals that ISDS has to be part of it; so if the EU wants to take ISDS out, this may be a deal breaker for the US. From my point of view: great. I think TTIP has many dangers inherent in it that go beyond ISDS. But the EU and the Member States might buckle because they are wedded to this trade deal because they think it will improve job prospects – a hope which is far from certain.
But some EU Member States – foremost among them the United Kingdom – are also wedded to ISDS. The City law firms in London are heavily involved in ISDS processes under other trade agreements and make a lot of money out of them. That is seen as good news for both London and the UK economy.
So, if we want to be sure that we don’t just win the consultation exercise but we win the battle over TTIP as a whole, we must make sure that our own government is put under pressure to agree to leave ISDS out of TTIP (and to sacrifice the whole of TTIP if need be).
Today, there is a debate in the House of Commons to force the UK government to make TTIP subject to parliamentary scrutiny prior to ratification. It may be too late for you to ask your MP to support this; but it’s not too late to find out how your MP voted and to make your vote in the general election contingent on this.
There is no realistic chance that TTIP could be ratified prior to the general election. After the general election, the House of Commons can look at the ratification process again. So what your MP does today, and what your candidates say on this matter in the coming days and weeks, matters.
The only way we will win against the corporate interests that are driving TTIP is to put pressure on the people we elect and pay to represent us.