Jude Kirton-Darling MEP and Paul Brannen MEP, Labour Members of the European Parliament for the North East have voted on the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations today, which could lead to a major trade deal between the European Union and United States of America. At a session of the European Parliament this week in Strasbourg Jude and Paul voted to keep public services out of any future deal, to ensure that workers’ rights and environmental standards go up and not down, and to reject the idea of secret tribunals that allow companies to take governments to court.
While the trade deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is at the early stages MEPs have decided to produce a report to give guidelines to the negotiators. Labour MEPs are supportive of trade and how it can create jobs and growth in the North East but voted to make sure that the proposed trade deal would be good for ordinary people as well as big business.
Labour MEPs voted for amendments which would mean that public services like the NHS would not be included in any trade deal. Also that any future Government could bring services back into public ownership that have previously been privatised. There will also be provisions which would mean that American standards of workers’ rights and environmental standards are lifted to European levels rather than the reverse.
Secret international tribunals, known as ISDS, which allow companies to sue Governments are present in many UK bilateral negotiated investment deals, but the UK does not currently have a bilateral investment agreement with the US. However, Labour MEPs put forward amendments which would rule out ISDS being included in TTIP. This amendment did not gain majority support in the European Parliament but Labour MEPs voted in line with their public pledge and voted against ISDS.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said “Trade in itself can be a good thing as it creates jobs and growth. This deal between Europe and America has the potential to grow our local economy. Global trade has to be properly regulated and must not lead to a race to the bottom on standards. Labour MEPs have worked diligently in the parliament drafting and tabling amendments which would give protection to ordinary people and reflect public concerns.
Paul Brannen MEP said “There has been public interest in TTIP in the North East and we have listened carefully to what people have been saying. Labour MEPs have worked hard to make sure that this trade deal can have a positive impact on people’s lives. We have been able to secure notable victories in this process but given the deal isn’t likely to be agreed for a number of years we will keep up the pressure.