Trade is neither bad nor good, but there is good trade and bad trade. Labour is firmly committed to changing the rules of global trade, for the benefit of the people and the planet. We stand for fair trade rather than free trade. We want to put an end to social dumping, protect jobs and wages at home while promoting human rights abroad and rebalance north-south relations. To do that, we must seize every opportunity we have to set a new agenda. TTIP represents such an opportunity, and that’s why Labour is not ruling it out at this stage. If we fail to get the agreement that we want, we can alway veto the deal in the end. But there would be no excuse for not trying.
Labour MEPs oppose the inclusion of ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) in TTIP, and have demanded security for our NHS and public services, and the maintenance of high labour standards and environmental protections.
Today MEPs voted on the TTIP negotiations, with Labour MEPs voting to keep public services out of TTIP and to ensure workers’ rights and environmental standards are protected.
MEPs also voted on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which enables companies to sue governments, from TTIP. Labour MEPs voted to rule ISDS out of the agreement but a majority of MEPs voted to support this, albeit in watered down provisions.
The compromise amendment on ISDS reads:
“to ensure that foreign investors are treated in a non-discriminatory fashion while benefiting from no greater rights than domestic investors, and to replace the ISDS-system with a new system for resolving disputes between investors and states which is subject to democratic principles and scrutiny where potential cases are treated in a transparent manner by publicly appointed, independent professional judges in public hearings and which includes an appellate mechanism, where consistency of judicial decisions is ensured, the jurisdiction of courts of the EU and of the Member States is respected and where private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives;”
As the compromise amendment on ISDS was passed by the Parliament, Labour MEPs had no choice but to vote against the Parliament’s resolution: this is the will of our constituents, and to do otherwise would have been a betrayal of those that elected us. We will continue to fight to get our voices and the voices of the thousands of European citizens that oppose ISDS in TTIP heard.
The negotiations on the TTIP agreement are in the early stages, and today’s vote was only on the European Parliament’s position on these negotiations. Now the European Parliament has agreed a position, the TTIP negotiators will have to take it seriously if they want MEPs to vote to accept the final deal when it is reached between the European Commission and the US.
Labour MEPs have worked hard to ensure public concerns are reflected in the Parliament’s position and that our public services – especially the NHS – and our environmental, food and labour standards, and workers’ rights, are protected.
Negotiations between the European Commission and the US will continue on TTIP and I hope they will pay attention to what the citizens of Europe have said, and what we have made clear we will not accept in a final deal.
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