Saturday

7th Dec 2019

Investor court issue still bedevils TTIP vote

  • Wall Street: The EU and US are negotiating the world's largest free trade agrement (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

MEPs in Strasbourg next week are set to vote on how the free-trade deal, TTIP, with the Americans should be negotiated.

It will be their second attempt after president Martin Schulz, at the last plenary session, called off the vote following splits among and between party groups.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

A special court, known as the investor-state dispute system (ISDS), designed to allow big companies to sue countries, had roused sharp divisions.

Those issues have now been, ostensibly, resolved, with MEPs steering the report through the international trade committee managing to reach new compromise.

The latest text, hammered out with Schulz’s input, asks the commissioner negotiators “to replace the ISDS-system with a new system” in which “private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives.”

The Socialists, who are piloting the file, say it means ISDS is effectively dead.

“That means no ISDS, which we are very happy about,” an S&D spokesperson told reporters in Brussels on Friday (3 July).

She said the new system would be “public and transparent” and ensure private interests don’t “undermine public policy”.

One parliament source told this website some socialists still have an issue with the ISDS compromise and will likely vote against it, however.

Meanwhile, the centre-right EPP have a different narrative.

They back the compromise because it still allows a specialised court where big firms can take legal action against governments outside the normal national judicial system.

A spokesperson from the centre-right group told this website the compromise text simple means the Socialists can "sell to the people” that ISDS no longer exists.

“It is a problem of branding. Instead of ISDS you can call it whatever, but there will be a system”, he said.

A Guardian newspaper report into ISDS rulings in other areas, earlier this year, revealed sums awarded to companies are sometimes so large that a threat of lawsuit is now being used “to exert pressure on governments not to challenge investors’ actions.”

Negotiations between the EU and US started in 2013.

The deal, once reached, will need the backing of the European Parliament and member states to come into force.

The far-left GUE and the Greens, for their part, oppose ISDS and anything that resembles it.

“We sill stand firm against ISDS and any secret regulatory cooperation council preventing the future advancement of our societies,” said Helmut Scholz, a German MEP from the GUE group.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us