World Development Movement welcomes pause on ‘investor courts’ but calls for a wider pause to the whole negotiation process

Welcoming the announcement of the European Commission that it has paused negotiations on the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) while public consultation takes place, anti-poverty group World Development Movement called for a halt to the entire negotiating process today.

The group claimed that the negotiations are not about trade relations, but are about agreeing a ‘charter for corporate rights’ which will affect European society from the provision of health services to the power of banking.

The World Development Movement believes that so-called ‘investor courts’, or investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, are anti-democratic, giving corporations additional legal powers to sue governments and change government policies. The campaign group is further concerned that the central element of the EU-US deal is about the downward standardisation of labour, consumer and environmental protection and the opening up of corporate ‘investment’ in services.

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said:

The Berlaymont Building by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro Brazil

The Berlaymont Building by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

The European Commission’s pause in negotiations on the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism is to be welcomed. Like many other campaign groups, we will make clear that the idea of creating a special legal structure to protect corporations has no place in a democracy, and should be scrapped.

But this isn’t the only part of the negotiations that needs to be halted. At its essence, this deal is not about reducing tariffs on goods, but rather threatens to reduce protection of workers, consumers and the environment by ‘harmonising standards’. Even without the awful investor-state dispute settlement, people’s ability to limit the power of corporations will be reduced by this deal.

The EU should not pretend a treaty which will further free up the financial sector and lock-in corporate power over our health service is a ‘trade agreement’.

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