MEPs take initial position on TTIP negotiations

BBC | 28 May 2015

MEPs take initial position on TTIP negotiations

MEPs have called for a "new and effective" scheme to protect investors in the TTIP trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the United States.

During a vote on 28 May 2015, the International Trade Committee said a "permanent" solution for resolving trade disputes between companies and states should be included in the agreement.

In a non-binding resolution, it suggested that the new scheme could be based on revised proposals recently outlined by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

Although MEPs are not directly involved in negotiations on the trade deal, they will have to sign off on any agreement reached by EU and US negotiators before it can come into force.

The resolution will be put to a full plenary vote in the European Parliament in June.

The agreed resolution calls for a transparent legal mechanism for disputes, where cases are heard by "publicly appointed, independent" judges, with the opportunity for decisions to be appealed.

It also suggests that a public international investment court would be the "most appropriate" means to handle investment disputes in the medium term.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, German Social Democrat and committee chair Bernd Lange said the resolution showed provisions for a private arbitration system for firms "would no longer be tolerated" by the Parliament.

However, unlike his initial draft, the resolution supported by the committee does not explicitly call for a ban on controversial investor-to-state dispute mechanisms (ISDS), instead calling for the jurisdiction of national courts to be "respected" in the deal.

The earlier version had said that making firms resort to national courts would be the most "appropriate" way for investor disputes to be heard.

The final text was criticised by left-wing GUE MEP Helmut Scholz, who said the resolution had "ignored" concerns expressed about ISDS and had been left "open and vague".

However, the positive committee vote was praised by British Conservative Emma McClarkin, who said robust protection for foreign companies was essential to encourage them to invest in Europe’s economy.

She added that it the committee needed to leave "as much on the table for negotiation as possible" in trying to influence the discussions.

source: BBC