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European Parliament trade committee could reject ISDS in US-EU ‘free trade’ talks

Lange and PittellaEurActiv reports, “The European Parliament’s trade committee has signalled its opposition to an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).” Bernd Lange, a German Socialist and the chairperson of the committee, has written in a draft report that will go to the European Commission that, “A state-to-state dispute settlement system and the use of national courts are the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes.”

The news report adds, “The Socialist and Democrats are not all opposed to ISDS, although group president Gianni Pittella has called for it to be ditched. The S&D will prove influential on the final decision, as it is the second largest group in the Parliament, and its MEPs are not as entrenched in their support or opposition as the other groups. …The full European Parliament will eventually vote on the TTIP. A majority of MEPs will have to back the free trade agreement for it to come into force.”

Trading Away Democracy: How CETA’s Investor Protection Rules Threaten the Public Good in Canada and the EU, recently produced by the Council of Canadians and allies in Canada, Quebec and Europe, argues that, “Canadian subsidiaries of US-headquartered multinationals will also be able to use CETA to sue European governments.” In other words, even if ISDS is rejected in the US-EU deal, Europeans would not be able to escape the consequences of it given its inclusion in the Canada-EU deal.

It would appear that the European Parliament accepts this argument. In August 2014, Reuters reported, “EU lawmakers are threatening to block a multibillion dollar trade pact between Canada and the European Union – a blueprint for a much bigger EU-U.S. deal – because it would allow firms to sue governments if they breach the treaty.” That article highlights, “Together with the Socialists’ 191 members, the political groups opposing the agreement could count on 341 votes, just 35 short of a majority.” But if you add opposition among the non-attached members, there may actually be a majority of MEPs who would oppose CETA.

It is expected that the European Parliament could vote on the ratification of CETA in either January/ February 2016 or in April 2016 if a court ruling also requires the twenty-eight national parliaments within the European Union to ratify the deal as well.

For more information on our campaign in opposition to CETA, please click here.

Photos: Bernd Lange. Gianni Pittella.