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TTIP Vote Back On!

Welcome to my latest TTIP update (the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Previous updates can be found here, along with my speech to the SNP conference where SNP members adopted our policy on TTIP.

As things stand, the SNP will continue our opposition to this deal.

The vote on the European Parliament’s position on the deal has been rescheduled to Wednesday next week (July 8) so we will, finally, use our chance to make Scotland’s voice heard on this important dossier.

It is now almost one month since the dramatic last minute events that saw the European Parliament President postpone the vote taking place on the Lange report. We had been due to vote on the European Parliament’s position on TTIP but the decision by the President of the Parliament to withdraw the report meant that there was no vote and consequently no report (see my update).

This was a disappointing decision and the confusion (in some cases misinformation) that surrounded the whole process doesn’t paint those involved in a good light. The Parliament’s President sent the report back to the Committee responsible for its creation due to the large number of amendments. It is clear that there was far more going on, and I think this panicked postponement indicated that the “fixers” in the Parliament felt they would not get the result they wanted, with the controversial ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement rules, also known as “Corporate Courts”) likely to be removed from the package.

I am pleased to say that the Parliament has refused to be a rubber stamp and this tactic has failed. On Monday this week the committee quite rightly sent the whole report largely unchanged back to the full Parliament. Clearly the MEPs in the committee agree that it is not their role to tell the rest of the Parliament how we should vote!

Following this the Council of Presidents met and rescheduled the vote for next week. They also put forward some new compromises that are messy and inadequate. In essence they propose to replace ISDS with a new system for “resolving disputes between investors and states”. The reason SNP policy has always been to oppose any system that would “alter the ability of democratically elected national governments and parliaments to organise public services in the way that best fits their needs” is now clear. This compromise may change the name and tweak some details but I don’t buy it - the content is still the same and I will support the amendments that call for a much clearer statement against ISDS.

In other news, I was on the Daily Politics with David Babb from 38 Degrees discussing TTIP, where I had the chance to thank him and the 38 degrees team for all their support on this. If you can access the BBC Iplayer you can see the discussion here.

Also, there has been a small positive step towards transparency. The farce that only MEPs can see EU documents relating to TTIP continues and I had booked another appointment to see the latest batch of TTIP documents in the reading room. (If you are interested you can read about my previous visits here). In particular I wanted to read the contents of:

  • CIU/R/285/15 - TTIP – Regulatory Cooperation
  • CIU/R/287/15 - TTIP – Regulatory Cooperation – CORRIGENDUM.

I am pleased to say that the pressure that myself and other MEPs are applying now means that these documents have been released to everyone. Therefore, instead of having to provide you with my opinion upon their content I can simply leave a link to them here for you to read at leisure.

I assure you that they make light bedtime reading! To be clear I remain deeply concerned about regulatory harmonisation, particularly in relation to animal welfare and farming standards.

As ever, it also worth keeping one eye on the other side of the Atlantic. It seems increasingly likely, though not yet guaranteed, that through a series of back room deals President Obama will secure the Trade Promotion Authority or “fast track” negotiating rights from Congress that he needs to move forwards with TTIP (you can read more about this here). In contrast the increasing controversy surrounding TTIP and the pressure coming from the public means that there are signs of movement elsewhere, notably by Hillary Clinton. Whilst launching her bid for the US Presidency she refused to give her support for the President’s policy and instead spoke of the ‘legitimate’ concerns that people have about the new generation of trade treaties being negotiated.

I urge you all to keep in touch with politicians expressing your concerns. The more constituents are active on an issue the harder it is for those negotiating TTIP to ignore your concerns. I will of course continue to apply pressure wherever I can to secure an outcome that is beneficial to Scotland.

For now, we must all wait until next weeks vote. I know that concerns about TTIP are high but rest assured I will support any amendments that protect the NHS, protect wider public services or condemn ISDS. If you sign up for my updates I will, of course, be in touch to tell you what happens.