First response: Tory:
Thank you for your email and for raising your concerns regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Dr Kamall has contacted the office of his conservative colleague Robert Sturdy who is following this issue on the International Trade (INTA) committee. They have sent us the following response:
“First please allow me the opportunity to explain some background to these on-going negotiations. The European Union and the United States are each other’s main trading partners and enjoy the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. Transatlantic trade flows (goods and services trade plus earnings and payments on investment) averaged $4 billion each day through the first three quarters of 2011. In 2008 EU/US combined economies accounted for nearly 60 % of global GDP.
However, for all its value and importance, the EU-US trading relationship still suffers from numerous obstacles, preventing it reaching its full potential to provide growth and jobs.
It has been estimated that the deal could bring an extra £10bn to the UK annually, which would give a huge boost to jobs in our economy at a time when we are still suffering with the effects of the economic crisis. That is an extra £400 to every UK household and while some reports criticise the economic focus, I would argue that this is exactly the kind of stimulus package we should be focusing on.
Now to address your specific concerns about ISDS, ISDS is a system that allows investors to initiate proceedings directly against a government should they believe that their property has been expropriated illegally, that is not in conformance with the laws of that country itself. It is often used in agreements where the partner country’s legal system is not as robust as the EU’s legal system. These types of clauses are also included in many of the EU’s Member States’ existing bilateral investment treaties, including existing agreements done by the UK.
I understand that some argue an ISDS clause is not necessary as the legal systems of EU and US are highly developed and cases by investors could be brought through the normal channels. However, the Conservatives in the European Parliament support the inclusion of an ISDS chapter in the agreement, because even with developed countries it ensures certainty for our investors, including SMEs.
However, this clause’s inclusion will be subject to certain conditions. Firstly, we must not allow for frivolous claims by companies against governments. Rest assured that this is not a mechanism that will allow for fundamental laws of the EU, such as the REACH legislation on chemicals or the Tobacco Products Directive to be overturned by a foreign company.
There is a culture difference between the litigious US and the EU, and we must take full account of this in the negotiations on the ISDS clause. Therefore, the EU made it very clear in the first round of negotiations to the US that our mandate on ISDS is conditional and upstream decision on inclusion will be required or inclusion. The Commission has made it very clear that any ISDS mechanism will not be as litigious as the ISDS mechanism in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Indeed, the EU and its Member States will and must remain able to adopt and enforce in accordance with their own and EU laws measures necessary to pursue legitimate public policy objectives in the fields of social and environmental standards, security, the stability of the financial system, and public health and safety.
While I have no direct control over negotiations, rest assured that the European Parliament, specifically myself and other members of the International Trade Committee, will be monitoring the progress of negotiations to ensure the European Commission keeps its word. The European Parliament, as well as the UK government, will also have to give final approval to the deal. This agreement is not a “full frontal assault on democracy”, but instead brings many benefits to UK consumers and businesses.”
I hope this is helpful.
Parliamentary Assistant to Syed Kamall