18th May 2021

MEPs snipe at one another, as US trade vote postponed

  • A scheduled vote on the EU-US trade pact in the European Parliament was cancelled amid divisions between political groups (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

A key vote in the European Parliament on the EU-US trade deal TTIP has been postponed.

Lawmakers in Strasbourg on Tuesday (9 June) were informed the vote would not take place at the plenary session the following day because too many amendments had been tabled.

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The resolution had some 200 amendments. The decision to postpone the vote was taken by European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

It means the report will be sent back to the parliament’s international trade committee for more talks.

But the decision has riled MEPs who said they have been cheated out of their right to cast a vote on a trade deal that has major regulatory ramifications on both sides of the Atlantic.

“President Schulz has pulled a fast one and used an underhand administrative procedure to postpone tomorrow's vote,” said French Green Yannick Jadot in a statement.

He described the delay as ruse to cover up sharp divisions within the two largest political groups on ISDS, a controversial measure that allows big companies to sue national governments in a special court.

“The decision to cancel the vote on TTIP stinks of political parties in the European Parliament running scared of the huge public opposition to TTIP,” said Keith Taylor, a Green MEP from the UK.

The centre-right’s negotiator on the file, Germany’s Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, said she was not surprised by Schulz’s decision given the divisions.

“There is an agreement in the parliament that we need a resolution with, if possible, a broad majority,” she told this website.

She said the EPP had a unified position on the issues but that divisions had emerged in the centre-left S&D.

Quisthoudt-Rowohl said the divisions are not only about ISDS. She noted the two groups did not agree on other issues like market access on services.

She also said Bernd Lange, a German centre-left MEP who is leading the file through parliament, had switched positions on compromise amendments he had himself proposed.

“I’ve been 25 years in this house and I’ve never seen this before,” she said.

But Lange, for his part, in a tweet laid the blame on the centre-right for wanting to keep ISDS in the resolution.

British centre-left David Martin described Schulz’s decision as a “hugely disappointing”.

"We wanted a vote tomorrow to make our position on this trade deal clear,” he said in a statement.

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