MEPs were supposed to vote on a report on the TTIP negotiations last week during their plenary session in Strasbourg. Although EP does not have a formal role in the negotiations, the need to win its approval following the conclusion of the deal make it an important player nevertheless. The negotiations are overseen by the International Trade Committee of the parliament, which endorsed the talks led by the Commission, including the controversial ISDS mechanism. The endorsement came after a last-minute deal between the conservatives (EPP) and the socialists (S&D), the two largest parliamentary groups. But shortly after the committee vote the shift inside S&D over ISDS revealed itself, causing an unpredictable outcome of the plenary vote. Hours before the plenary vote, the EP president Martin Schulz (S&D) used his authority to alter the plenary´s program and sent the TTIP report back to its committee, effectively delaying the plenary vote. The official reason was the large number of proposed amendments (over 200). However, debate on the TTIP issue should have taken place, only without the vote itself at the end. This is, however, where party politics entered again. The EPP retaliated by calling a vote to postpone also the TTIP debate, which most MEPs, including the socialists, wanted to hold even with the TTIP vote delayed. An EPP MEP called the situation a total embarrassment for the socialists, who, unable to reach a decision on ISDS, used their EP president´s exceptionally strong powers to avoid a complete humiliation. The EPP, joined by some ECR members in the end managed to delay the debate and the issue thus remains unresolved at the European Parliament.
19th June 2018