Kirklees Campaign Against Climate Change organised a lobby of Yorkshire Labour MEP, Richard Corbett on Saturday 6th June, just four days before the European Parliament vote on TTIP.
We were really pleased with the response from people across the region. Over 25 people attended from as far afield as Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and Calderdale. We’d like to thank everyone who helped to promote the event.
The event took place at Huddersfield Library. We discussed and co-ordinated our approach to the lobby for one hour and this was followed by a one hour meeting with Richard Corbett.
Richard Corbett maintained his position on TTIP. https://kirkleescampaignagainstclimatechange.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/ttip-under-the-spotlight-at-leeds-seminar/ This is that the TTIP proposals include many negative elements such as ISDS and that, if these elements are retained when it comes to the final vote on TTIP, he and other MEPs will vote against it. The view of all people present was that TTIP should be opposed full stop.
It’s to Richard Corbett’s credit that he took the time to travel to Huddersfield listen to the concerns of constituents. He promised to contact us after 10th June to explain how he voted in the European Parliament.
After the meeting, Tim Padmore of Kirklees Campaign Against Climate Change said, “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could be a real threat to democracy on both sides of the Atlantic, giving huge corporations powers to sue governments in secret tribunals for loss of profits.”
ISDS (or Investor State Dispute Settlement) clauses exist in other trade agreements. They have been used by Philip Morris to sue the Australian government when it voted to introduce plain cigarette packaging.
When the European Union opened a consultation on TTIP last year, a record breaking 150,000 people responded. 97% opposed ISDS.
ISDS is not the only threat posed by TTIP. Another is ‘regulatory convergence’ which could see European food standards and environmental standards reduced to meet the United States’ lower standards.
Tim Padmore added, “Richard Corbett shares our concerns about many aspects of TTIP, including ISDS and regulatory convergence. The difference between us is that he believes that it is worth negotiating for a form of TTIP in which these negative elements are eliminated. We believe that these negative elements are intrinsic parts of TTIP and that, consequently, this deal, as a whole should be scrapped. We’re very concerned that negotiating in this way could lead to dangerous deals and compromises being made – and that, once they have been made, it will be too late for European citizens to object.”
MEPs are due to take part in a non-binding vote on TTIP on Wednesday 10th June, guided by the resolution of the International Trade Committee. They will vote on the Trade Committee’s motion and on amendments yet to be tabled.
Tim Padmore said, “This week’s vote in the European Parliament is really important because of the message it will send to the Commission about what things should and should not be negotiated. This week further amendments will be tabled. We will be watching closely to see how Yorkshire and Humber MEPs voted on Wednesday.”
Two weeks ago the International Trade Committee voted on TTIP. They voted out, at the last minute, a crucial sentence in the report: fair, non-discriminatory treatment of foreign investors “can be achieved without the inclusion of an ISDS mechanism – such a mechanism is not necessary in TTIP given the EU’s and US’ developed legal systems“.
This caused huge disappointment to citizens, not least because MEPs from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) – who had committed to oppose ISDS – voted for this position.
Five politicians from the UK were part of the committee. All supported ISDS apart from William Dartmouth (UKIP) who voted against. This is not binding but sends a strong message to the European Commission.
Labour MEP Jude Kirton-Darling had added amendment 762 proposing scrapping ISDS altogether. Eventually she and other S+D group MEPs struck a deal to agree a weaker compromise amendment instead. (This means that judges will need to be publically appointed and independent and that there will be opportunities for decisions to be appealed.)
Consequently, the right for corporations to sue governments has not been voted out. This has been described as “a significant U turn by the socialists”. The S&D group could have approved the anti-TTIP report by a margin of 22 to 19 (S&D, GUE, Green, EFPD, NI and Joachim Starbatty).
Bex Hay of 38 Degrees said, “Right now MEPs seem to be scared to take a strong enough stand against the deal. Even MEPs who pledged to vote the right way caved into pressure, rather than stand up for what they said they believed in – a democracy that puts people before corporate profits.”
War on Want Executive Director John Hilary said, “Millions of people across Europe have said no to TTIP, in the strongest trade campaign we have ever seen. Yet MEPs have turned their backs on their own constituents, choosing instead to side with the business lobbyists of Brussels. This is an outright betrayal of the European people, and we shall not forget it.”
Please support this e-action against ISDS http://action.globaljustice.org.uk/ea-ction/action?ea.client.id=1784&ea.campaign.id=38890&ea.tracking.id=website
Notes and links
European Parliament vote on 10th June http://www.euractiv.com/sections/trade-society/what-will-eu-parliamentarians-vote-ttip-313845
International Trade Committee resolution on 28th May https://euobserver.com/news/128877
Bex Hay, 38 Degrees https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2015/06/02/ttip-trade-committee-vote/
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html AND https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/pages/ttip_home
Investor State Dispute Settlement Clauses http://stopttip.net/investor-state-dispute-settlement-isds/
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