There are continued indications of a growing opposition to the investor-state provision in the U.S.-European Union free trade agreement (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP).
Zeit Online reports on comments by the German Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy Brigitte Zypries. She says, "From the perspective of the federal government, the U.S. investors from the EU offer sufficient legal protection in their national courts... The federal government has critically examined from the beginning, whether such a provision in the negotiations to be included on a free trade agreement.... We are currently in the consultation process and are committed to ensuring that the arbitration proceedings are not included in the contract."
Last month, Agence Europe reported, "France believes that a state to state dispute settlement mechanism is enough under the transatlantic trade and investment partnership... France 'is not in favour' of including in the agreement a settlement mechanism for disputes between the investor and state, as [French minister for trade Nicole] Bricq believes that a state to state dispute mechanism 'is enough.' France is not alone on this issue – Germany is also 'very reluctant,' Bricq says."
In January, the UK newspaper The Independent reported, "Britain’s freedom to tackle climate change, protect consumers or guarantee a publicly run NHS (National Health Service) could be jeopardised by a trade deal being negotiated between Europe and the U.S., MPs and pressure groups have warned.... An Early Day Motion in Parliament, signed by MPs from all parties, calls for the trade talks to be frozen until the issue is resolved."
This is particularly significant because there is also an investor-state provision in the Canada-European Union free trade agreement – and these countries will need to ratify this Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) for it to come into effect.
When Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow met with the European Union ambassador to Canada, Matthias Brinkmann, and 25 European member country ambassadors at the EU delegation office in Ottawa on June 15, 2011, she told them, "Don’t believe that Canada won’t use this tool [the investor-state provision] against European regulations and concerns. Canada is aggressively lobbying and challenging at the WTO countries that get in the way of the interests of its energy and mining industries. Watch for a Canadian or EU-based seed company using CETA to challenge the EU’s GMO policy, or its seal ban, or France’s asbestos ban. Corporations use trade agreements like CETA to knock down higher standards wherever they exist."
Photo: Brigitte Zypries, German Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy