European Parliament to produce report on EU-US trade agreement negotiations

Last week, at the European Parliament, Bernd Lange MEP, the chair of the Committee on International Trade, presented to the Committee the outline of an up-coming report on the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

TTIP is described as a potential instrument for sustainable growth in the EU and beyond and for the creation of good and stable jobs, if the perimeters are set right. This agreement also has the potential to create standards, norms and rules which will be adopted on a global level and in the framework of multilateral World Trade Organisation agreements.

TTIP should be an opportunity to stimulate sustainable growth, while at the same time protecting workers, consumers and the environment. It must be ensured that trade policy serves the interests of citizens, consumers and workers.

The report stresses the importance of increasing the transparency of the negotiations and involving member states in the negotiations to ensure a broad public debate. The Parliament encourages making negotiation proposals more available to the general public.

Concerning investment protection, the report will suggest a state-to-state dispute settlement system with national courts as the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes. In case Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions need to be included in TTIP, the agreement should contain effective reforms to the current model.

With regards to the chapter on services, the report will state that it is very important to ensure an adequate carve-out of sensitive services such as public services and public utilities. The Parliament suggests a joint declaration reflecting negotiators’ clear commitment to exclude these sectors from the negotiations. Social Platform considers this statement from the Parliament very important. However, we consider that it does not cover the real challenge to services of general interest that is implicit in the approach taken by the Commission about these. In fact, the position of the Commission is that ‘public services’ (which are not defined and are not in line with the concept of services of general interest, commonly used in other policy areas in the EU) are excluded from the negotiations if they are publicly financed. But what about those services of general interest that are privately funded or are funded jointly by public and private funds? Do they deserve less protection?

Social Platform will continue to monitor progress of TTIP negotiations and will develop its own position in a series of task force meetings.