5th June 2015

Politics: EP socialists change sides on TTIP again


What looked as merely a formality is likely to become a political drama. On 28 May, the conservatives and the socialists in the EP, the two largest groups of the EU parliament having an overwhelming majority, made a last-minute compromise deal on a debated TTIP report. Although the report itself is not binding for the Commission, it is a very important state-of-play indicator – anything that the parliament opposes in the report is likely to be opposed also at the end when the EP votes on the whole TTIP, in an extreme case possibly leading to scrapping the transatlantic deal altogether. Just before the final International Trade Committee vote, the socialists abandoned their long-term opposition to the well-known controversial ISDS issue in favor of a compromise based on Commissioner Malmstroem´s plans. But on 3 June, the socialist MEPs re-evaluated their position and ultimately switched back to the original one – opposing ISDS altogether. This step was welcomed by the much smaller Greens/EFA group, which strongly opposes ISDS. The announcement instantly provoked questions on the fate of the TTIP report, due to be discussed by the plenary this week. One possible outcome is the declared refusal of ISDS by the EP. This would be a huge outcome, not only because of the negotiations on TTIP (the US and some European stakeholders strongly push for ISDS), but could also open a Pandora’s box of other agreements. A similar free trade deal with Canada was concluded recently and this one includes ISDS. Although the socialists make it clear that they oppose ISDS in TTIP and not ISDS in general, the consequences are difficult to predict. Another possibility is another last-minute compromise, possibly brokered by the Commission. Or the S&D MEPs may break party lines and vote freely in favor of ISDS. In any case, the 10 June vote will be very important.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic