EU Parliament Shelves Vote on TTIP Resolution for Now
On the eve of a scheduled June 9 European Parliament plenary vote on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), parliament resident Martin Schulz pulled the plug, referring the matter back to a parliamentary committee to deal with the more than 200 complaints against the legislation and proposed amendments.
A new date for a vote on the controversy has not been scheduled. The delay will not have any immediate consequences, however. The Parliament is not involved in the formal TTIP negotiations, although it will have a veto over the final text.
Observers were divided on what the postponement meant. Parliamentarians opposed to the treaty suggested that the EP’s leadership was afraid that the many proposals for amendment would suggest to outsiders that the positions of EU stakeholders were not aligned.
Speaking for the Greens/EFA faction, Yannick Jadot contended that the vote postponement was used to “prevent these divisions from being put on the record.” He added that his party will continue to raise concerns over TTIP.
Remarking that he respected Schulz's decision, the TTIP parliamentary rapporteur and trade committee chair Bernd Lange, a German Social Democrat, said the committee will continue the work on the resolution.
Lange said the time gained will be used to “work towards reaching a stable majority for the resolution. EP can only come forward with a strong message for the TTIP negotiators if our resolution is supported by a broad majority,” he added.
Calling the vote postponement “quite understandable,” the German chemical industry association, Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI), which strongly supports the trade agreement, called on the European Commission to “continue the negotiations without undue delay” and “bring about substantial reform in investor protection.”
VCI General Manager Utz Tillmann urged the EP to take a position on the Commission’s plans for reforming the investor-state arbitration clause. While chemical producers support the idea of an international investment court with professional judges in the medium term, he said they believe private arbitration courts are needed as an interim solution.
The arbitration courts are so controversial in Europe that they have officially been removed from the scope of the negotiations, at least temporarily. The Commission and the chemical industry, however, would like to see them reinstated.
On the day before the scheduled EP vote, the European Citizens' Initiative Stop TTIP reached two million signatures. UK think-tank Global Justice noted that this and the large number of amendments to the TTIP resolution "reflects just how controversial and contested this toxic trade deal has become. MEPs know that the people of Europe do not want the introduction of secret corporate courts,” it added.