Vox Political: Socialist Euro MEPs Reject Corporate Power in TTIP System

Mike over at Vox Political has this piece, MEP group rejects controversial TTIP trade dispute system – almost unanimously, reporting that Labour MEPs convinced the other members of the Socialist and Democrat group within the European parliament to reject the provisions in the TTIP that allow private businesses to sue national governments if they pass legislation that damages them. It begins

The Labour Party has been instrumental in ensuring that a large group in the European Parliament has rejected any use of the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in trade deals with both the US (TTIP) and Canada (CETA).

The Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament adopted almost unanimously a position paper drafted by a working group headed by UK Labour Party MEPs including David Martin (chair), Jude Kirton-Darling (spokesperson on TTIP and CETA) and Richard Corbett (Labour’s Deputy Leader in the European Parliament).

The proposal was supported by 78 votes to five against.

“We have always been opposed to ISDS as a group, although we didn’t have a chance to adopt a formal decision on this matter since the last European elections in 2014,” said Mr Martin. “In doing so today, we are responding to the thousands of constituents and the many civil society organisations that have asked us to clarify our position.”

Jude Kirton-Darling added: “This decision … will prove to be a real game-changer, not only in the negotiations between the EU and the US but also with respect to the ratification of the Canada agreement.

The European Commission and Europe’s Conservatives will need our support in the end if they want to see TTIP through. Today, we are sending them a loud and clear message that we can only contemplate support if our conditions are met. One such condition is we do not accept the need to have private tribunals in TTIP.”

And Richard Corbett said: “Today the Labour Party has demonstrated that engaging with our neighbours across the EU yields tangible results in the interest of the general public. Labour were instrumental in securing this outcome, and this is a tribute to the hard work, commitment and resolve of Labour MEPs.”

The TTIP has been fiercely criticised because its provision of special tribunals to allow private industry to sue national governments in particular threatens to lock in place the Conservatives’ back-door privatisation of the NHS. There have already been demonstrations up and down the country earlier this month against the Treaty, and the various internet petitioning organisation have also been active collecting signatures against it.

The ISDS is particularly loathsome in that it has been used by western companies to sue governments around the world for damages when they have passed legislation to improve conditions for their own workers. I posted a piece the other week about the way a British waste management firm had sued the Egyptian government under the ISDS after they passed laws raising the minimum wage for Egyptian workers. The anti-Islam sites on the web themselves admit that part of the reason for the social and political unrest in Egypt is due to the poor state of the country’s economy, with mass unemployment. Many Egyptians are living at or below the breadline, unable to afford many staple foods. It is utterly despicable that a rich, western corporation should attempt to punish the Egyptian government for damaging its profits by trying to improve conditions for its own desperately poor people.

And that example sums up the grasping, exploitative mindset of the people and groups behind the trade deal. It’s the same type of mentality as the people behind the ‘vulture funds’, that buy up the debts from poor, developing nations, and then squeeze them for millions, often tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, which these nations can ill-afford. The ISDS may only be used on poor nations, whose lack of industrial development makes them weak and vulnerable to such coercion at the moment. But if it got through and was incorporated into the TTIP, then it would be used on us. The ordinary British worker would be ground down even further to further enrich powerful multinationals.

As Mike points out, this rejection of the ISDS by the Euro-Socialists following Britain’s Labour party shows that the Labour party itself is not as Neo-Liberal as its critics have alleged, and shows the strong opposition to and determination to stop the ISDS.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/07/mep-group-rejects-controversial-ttip-trade-dispute-system-almost-unanimously/

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