Despite vocal criticism, the EU Parliament has approved a non-binding resolution on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, bridging a gap in protracted negotiations on the secretive trade pact between the EU and the US.
The resolution was
approved by the majority of the parliament with 436 ‘Yes’ votes
coming up against 241 ‘No’ votes in Strasbourg on Wednesday in
hopes of influencing the TTIP negotiations between European
Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom and the USA. Washington
insists that for negotiations to be successful a dispute body
must be incorporated into the final agreement.
The resolution, introduced by European Parliament President
Martin Schulz, seeks to replace the Investor State Dispute
Settlement (ISDS) mechanism a new “more transparent” system of
dispute resolution instead of using private arbitration panels to
challenge government in a trade disagreements.
The vote signals “that the old system of investor-state dispute
settlement should not and cannot be reproduced in TTIP,”
Malmstrom said in a statement.
This system should be “subject to democratic principles and
scrutiny”, in which disputes are processed “in a
transparent manner”, by “publicly appointed, independent
professional judges” and “in public hearings”. It
should include “an appellate mechanism,” respect the
jurisdiction of EU and member state courts and ensure that
private interests “cannot undermine public policy
objectives”, says the text.
But after months of bitter debate, while the centre-right
parliamentarians see the trade deal with US as good for business,
the Greens and far-left and far-right politicians see it as a
threat to EU laws. Critics say it would allow US companies to
challenge European food and environmental regulations on the
grounds that they restrict trade.
Proponents of the deal say that it will boost GDP in the EU by
€100 billion ($110 billion) and in the US by more than $100
billion, as well as create over 700,000 jobs in America. More
free trade would increase investment, and widening export
industries would add jobs.
But opponents of TTIP warn that these figures are not realistic
and that cheaper goods and services would hurt the EU and help
the US. One of the most contentious issues is also whether TTIP
will weaken Europe’s rules over genetically modified organisms
“Parliament’s call today for a ‘new system’ must be heard,
and it will be,” Malmstrom said. “I will now press ahead
to flesh these out, and transform them into legal proposals, so
that these further reforms can be incorporated into Europe’s
proposals for TTIP.”
Boosting trade with the US may also come at a cost for European
countries that may need to compromise on health, safety and
environmental regulations. Following the passage in parliament
the UK Independence Party (UKIP) criticized the decision.
“The people interested in the protection of the NHS, in
consumer rights and a legal system fair to small businesses will
be angry with this decision of the European Parliament to pass
TTIP,” said UKIP trade spokesman William Dartmouth MEP.
“This is a very damaging vote by MEPs which will hurt free
trade and the financial well-being of patients, consumers and
While TTIP between the US and Europe would create the world’s
largest free trade zone many Europeans believe that the agreement
will elevate corporate interest above national interest. As a
result demonstrators have taken place all across Europe,
including in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Netherlands,
Poland, the Czech Republic, and Scandinavia.
The next round of TTIP negotiations is scheduled for July 13-17