Welcome to my latest TTIP update (the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), my previous updates can be found here.
I am sorry to report that today the European parliament adopted the Lange TTIP report by 426 votes to 241. This is not the same as adopting TTIP itself but the report is important because it should lay out the clear red lines that are acceptable to MEPs.
Unfortunately it is a messy, inadequate compromise that does little to protect our public services or European standards.
Let me be clear, I have said from the very beginning that myself and the SNP are in favour of free trade but commerce and democracy are not mutually exclusive, nor should they ever be traded against each other. The SNP has always been clear about our position that was formally laid out and accepted by our members (more details can be seen here).
The entire history of the Lange Report has been a tale of a compromise too far. I myself demanded an the exemption of agriculture from TTIP but this call, and many others, fell upon deaf ears. Remarkably in a fudge to get the report out of committee the Socialist and Democrats Group (which includes the UK Labour Party) accepted a wording on ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement rules, also known as “Corporate Courts”) that they themselves openly disagreed with!
This fudge was compounded one month ago when the report was supposed to be voted upon but instead it was sent back to the committee by the President. At the time I said that the “fixers” in the Parliament felt they could not get the result they wanted, but unfortunately by today they have had the time they needed to do their work. The new ‘compromise’ amendments on ISDS are so vague as to be meaningless. Indeed it effectively requests that ISDS be replaced with a variation of ISDS called something else.
The proposal still accepts the premise that corporations need a different set of rules to the general law. Considering that we are talking about Europe and the USA, two of the most advanced legal systems in the world, this is ridiculous. The wording of the report is not good enough and I could not vote for it. Since it was adopted, the stronger wording proposed by our group never came before the Parliament, so we will never know if the support existed for it.
The only glimmer of good news is that the report does call for the protection of cultural services but this is too little. Various amendments to explicitly protect public services such as the NHS and Water were comprehensively defeated and remarkably even an amendment to protect European geographical indicators, such as Stornoway black pudding and Parma ham, was also defeated.
In short, of 118 amendments only 6 were passed and the end result is worryingly inadequate.
So what happens now?
The Commission will continue to negotiate TTIP. They will take the Lange report as the European Parliament’s position and attempt to create a treaty that reflects it. This does not bode well. The next time I will get a vote on anything relating to TTIP will be the final text of the treaty but at that stage it will be a simple yes or no.
If the Lange report is anything to go by, I cannot see how I could support it.