Welcome to my latest update on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. As one of your representatives in the European Parliament I am committed to keeping people up to date on this issue as it unfolds.
Our calls for greater transparency in the TTIP negotiations bore fruit today as the European Commission announced a series of proposals for the negotiations, including:
- making public more EU negotiating texts that the Commission already shares with Member States and Parliament;
- providing access to TTIP texts to all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), not just a select few, by extending the use of a ‘reading room’ to those MEPs who had no access to restricted documents so far;
- classifying less TTIP negotiating documents as “EU restricted”, making them more easily accessible to MEPs outside the reading room;
- publishing and updating on a regular basis a public list of TTIP documents shared with the European Parliament and the Council.
While I’m pleased that we managed to gain this, I still think we can do more. My most pressing concern is that we exclude the Scottish NHS from the effects of any potential deal.
I’ve made it very clear that I oppose TTIP in its current form. Yes, a trade deal done right could boost trade between us and the US but in this case. I have strong concerns over the content of the deal on offer and the way in which that content came to be agreed.
The ramifications of this deal go way beyond any traditional trade deal, and it is only right that MEPs as legislators are involved at every stage of the process, not simply at the end as a glorified rubber stamp.
But, credit where it is due, today’s announcement is a step in the right direction. Greater transparency in the negotiations will allow us to better keep tabs on what is being agreed in our name, but I have no faith in the UK government to argue for our NHS in Scotland, given the policy they are pursuing south of the border.
I’m also concerned that when we get to the agricultural chapters of the package we could see a considerable undermining of European standards. I’m not convinced that companies should have access to special dispute resolution, and do not accept that the case for it has been made.
We in Scotland have already seen the actions of companies – the insurance companies over pleural plaques, the tobacco companies over advertising and the drinks industry over minimum pricing – seek to put their legal rights to make a profit above the democratic will of the Parliament, and I remain concerned that TTIP will entrench this deeply unhealthy drift, not face it down.
So a lukewarm thumbs up to the Commission today. TTIP will surely change and evolve further in the years before it’s signed off but its advocates will need to do a lot more to ensure any support for this deal.