News from the Committee on International Trade: July 2015
1. TTIP Resolution: Socialist MEPs support ISDS under pressure from EP President Martin Schulz
With debate still raging in the European Parliament on the proposals for an EU-US trade partnership and private arbitration courts (Investor-state dispute settlement/ISDS), the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has pressured German and Spanish MEPs from the centre-left Socialists & Democrats group to adopt the same position on ISDS as the centre and centre-right groups. However this compromise’s superficial and hollow assurances cannot disguise the fact that Schulz has here followed the bidding of German Chancellor Merkel and the big business lobby.
Greens/EFA vice-president and international investment spokesperson Ska Keller said:
“The tragicomedy on ISDS is entering its next phase in the European Parliament. And indeed, the so-called compromise proposal is nothing but theatre. At first glance, the contents of the compromise seem to support the position of ISDS critics. A closer look however reveals that the aim is to support the Commission’s position.
Although the compromise provides for replacing ISDS courts with some kind of ‘new’ system, there is no further explanation or details. Still, as long as there is a system in place for investors to litigate against states, as the compromise calls for, it is ISDS. The fact that the Parliament President’s tries to spin this as something different by giving it a new name does not change anything.”
The debate on the TTIP Lange report (i.e. the European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) will take place on Tuesday 8th of July and the vote will be on Wednesday 9th of July.
At the plenary session of the European Parliament in June the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, referred the TTIP report back to the Trade Committee. This was accompanied by his request to reduce the number of amendment applications. This tactical ploy was intended to give the grand coalition more breathing space in order to achieve a majority in the Parliament for private investment arbitration tribunals (ISDS). The Trade Committee has now dealt with this request in an extraordinary session and decided to return the report, with all requests for amendment, to the plenum. This has exposed the specious reasoning of the President.
2. Leak on the TiSA agreement: Liberalisation mania continues
WikiLeaks published further negotiating texts, hitherto kept secret, on the Trade in Services Agreement, TiSA. These include the main body of the agreement as well as the Annex on Government Procurement and updated texts on transparency and national legislation. Further leaks have been announced for tomorrow. The press release by Ska Keller says:
”The leaks shed light on the obscurity surrounding TiSA negotiations and the liberalisation agenda of the EU Commission. The most recent leaks showed clearly that the scope for state regulation is to be restricted substantially. It is now clear that TiSA is taking liberalisation to extremes. The leaked section on government procurement contains the proposal that all public contracts should be published in all TiSA countries. Even the smallest procurement volumes such as pencils for the office in a nursery school could be affected.
The main body of the agreement includes, amongst other provisions, the general exemption clauses for public services, environmental regulations and data protection. These exemptions have as many holes as Swiss cheese and will damage rather than protect. For example, with regard to government services only services offered via a state monopoly will be protected. This means that hospitals run by the Red Cross or adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) will no longer be protected.”
You can find the leaked documents and analyses in English here: https://wikileaks.org/tisa/
3. Update of the Regulation on Products used for Capital Punishment and Torture
The European Commission is currently updating the regulation which prohibits the export of goods which could be used for capital punishment or torture. The previous regulation was successful. For example, numerous executions had to be postponed because the EU is no longer supplying poison. We intend to improve more things in this updated version. For example, there is to be a prohibition on advertising and brokering such products by citizens of the European Union. Furthermore, we are demanding that it should be possible in the future to prohibit on an ad hoc basis the export of products where it is known that they can be used for torture, for example, but which have not yet been recognised as such by the European Commission.