Pro-TTIP report passes EP after "dirty tricks" from EU Parliament President
Campaigners have expressed dismay today that the European Parliament ignored the voice of millions of European citizens to express a positive opinion on TTIP (the US-EU trade deal). After angry scenes in Strasburg in which MEPs accused Parliamentary president Martin Schulz of "shredding the rules of procedure", several much fought amendments were not voted on.
The vote, formally on a report by the INTA (trade) Committee, had originally been scheduled to take place in June but had controversially been delayed at the last minute on the behest of President Schulz who had cited the high number of amendments to the report as the reason for the delay.
MEPs including Green MP Yannick Jadot accused President Schulz of continuing to use underhand political machinations to ensure that an amendment that was entirely opposed to ISDS wasn't voted on in the plenary.
One of the proposals that MEPs were voting on was a modified version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism that would grant corporations more opportunities to sue the governments that were party to the trade deal in supranational secret courts. The proposal had been introduced by members of the Socialist and Democratic group in parliament as a means of allaying some of the public outcry against ISDS, but the 'ISDS lite' proposal was still opposed by the network of 480 civil society groups across Europe fighting against TTIP, who had argued that the proposal didn't address the fundamental problems of ISDS.
Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said:
"This corporate court system known as ISDS has proven to be one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that the European Parliament has ever debated. In the Commission's own public consultation on the issue, 97% of the respondents were opposed to it. In the UK, the parliament Business (BIS) committee said that it was not convinced by the need for this mechanism.
"The only reason that MEPs are still trying so desperately to push this through is because of the enormously powerful corporate lobby machine in Brussels. TTIP is fundamentally an issue of people and democracy versus encroaching corporate power.
"Of course we praise those MEPs who voted against this toxic mechanism today, including members of the Labour Party. But we clearly have much more work to do to reclaim this parliament from the clutches of big business.
"The European Parliament vote today is no way binding towards the final outcome of TTIP. Public opposition to TTIP is continuing to mushroom at an astonishing rate and will prove decisive in stopping this toxic trade deal from going through. The fact that pro-TTIP politicians like Martin Schulz are prepared to use such dirty political tricks to railroad this toxic trade deal through means that the enormous coalition that has formed across Europe in opposition to TTIP is going to have to up its game, and that's what's going to happen.
"EU parliamentary leaders will try to spin this report as real departure on ISDS – but it's nothing of the sort. If enacted, this would still hand massive powers to tens of thousands of US corporations to sue our government."