News from the Committee on International Trade: July 2015 II
Here is an update just before the summer break from the meeting of the trade committee of the European Parliament. It will resume work in September.
1. The 10th round of TTIP negotiations
The 10th round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, is currently taking place in Brussels. What exactly is being negotiated is not public. Nevertheless, it is known that market access to services is at the core of negotiations. A quick look at the provisional text of CETA, a transatlantic free trade agreement with Canada which follows similar aims as TTIP with the USA, reveals which services the European Commission would like to protect in principle. However, the EU is to give up many of its restrictions regarding services in return for access to public procurement tenders in the USA. This could mean that protection for a number of public services could be abandoned. We are opposed to this. Furthermore, negotiations are to be held on data protection and a section on sustainability. However, no proposals have actually been submitted.
2. The future trading strategy of the European Union
The European Commission will review its general trading strategy next year. The initial draft of the Commission is expected on 14 October 2015. The European Parliament will then compile a report on it.
3. UNCITRAL rules on transparency for ISDS (United Nations agreement on transparency in investor-state dispute settlement regulated by international agreements)
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has developed new standards of transparency for investor-state arbitration tribunals. These are intended as a seminal tool for future investment protection agreements and are a step in the right direction; however, they support the one-sided ISDS system which is fundamentally problematic. The rules still have to be ratified by the European Parliament.