European Parliament fails citizens in TTIP vote

Civil society alliance announces further protests in autumn

The European Parliament today passed a resolution on TTIP that took months to prepare due to growing controversies, particularly on the issue of the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS).

This mechanism would allow foreign investors to sue states for compensation if they see their investment harmed by state actions. The vote and debate on the TTIP resolution had originally been scheduled for 10 June but had to be postponed because no agreement on ISDS was in sight. While many Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) remain opposed to ISDS, a majority of Social Democrats and Conservatives managed to broker a compromise last week that calls for a revised form of ISDS. This compromise made it possible for the resolution to pass today.

The civil society alliance Stop TTIP consisting of over 480 organisations from across Europe reacted with disappointment. Stop TTIP spokesperson Ernst-Christoph Stolper said:

“More than 2.3 million Europeans have signed a European Citizens’ Initiative and demand an immediate stop to the TTIP negotiations. These citizens were completely ignored today by the European Parliament. We will make sure their voices will be heard in the months to come. On 10 October we’re calling for a European Day of Action against TTIP and CETA, the EU-Canada trade agreement. Large demonstrations are planned in Germany and The Netherlands, while decentralised actions will take place in hundreds of cities in many other European countries such as France, Spain, Poland and Austria. We will continue to fight for our democracy, rule of law as well as social and environmental standards.”

On ISDS reform Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now and national contact person of Stop TTIP for the UK added: “The European Parliament today missed the opportunity to stop TTIP from undermining our democracy and social and environmental standards. Instead, a majority of Members of the European Parliament preferred to strengthen the Commission’s reform agenda for the investor state dispute settlement. These reforms are purely cosmetic. In essence, foreign investors are still to receive substantial additional rights compared with domestic companies and a parallel justice system to domestic courts to enforce these rights.”

The controversy surrounding the resolution also shows that the protest from civil society has arrived at the EU institutions, says Ernst-Christoph Stolper: “What should make the Commission nervous is that large numbers of Social Democrats did not go along with the pro-ISDS compromise. S&D MEPs from The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria and the UK resisted pressure from Martin Schulz and Bernd Lange. This jeopardises both the ratification of the CETA agreement and the conclusion of TTIP.”