This morning 38 Degrees published a full-page advert in the local press that resorts to misinformation and scaremongering. In an acceleration of a name-and-shame campaign launched last week on Facebook, the organisation claims I voted to back secret courts that allow corporations to sue governments. This is factually incorrect.
The campaign makes reference to a huge trade deal that is currently being negotiated by the European Commission and the United States, also known as TTIP.
Firstly, there has been no vote on TTIP yet, nor will there be for a very long time. Negotiations have barely begun, and are unlikely to be concluded before the end of the current European Parliament in 2019. Only once the final text is presented to the European Parliament will MEPs have the chance to support, or oppose, the deal. Until this happens, there is no TTIP to vote for or against.
Second, Members of Parliament (MEPs) have no role in TTIP negotiations, which are led by the European Commission. What we can do in the meantime is to outline what we would and would not be willing to accept in a future deal. This is where we find ourselves at now: next week MEPs in the European Parliament will adopt an official position on TTIP.
Last week I supported a report by the trade committee, which is the text that will be put to vote in the European Parliament on 10 June. The text includes key protections for the NHS and public services and binding labour safeguards. Importantly, it states that we trust national courts in the case of investor protection disputes, which ends the role of special ISDS tribunals. The report doesn't go far enough on ISDS, but it is an important step in the right direction
I am categorically opposed to private courts for multinationals and have tabled key amendments that explicitly rule out ISDS from any trade deal with the US. The amendments read as follows (in italics):
"... to propose a permanent solution for resolving disputes between investors and states – without the use of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) private arbitration – which is subject to democratic principles and scrutiny..."
"...to ensure that foreign investors are treated in a non-discriminatory fashion and have a fair opportunity to seek and achieve redress of grievances, while benefiting from no greater rights than domestic investors; to oppose the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in TTIP, as other options to enforce investment protection are available, such as domestic remedies..."
Between now and then I will be working hard to gather as much support as I can from MEPs in all political parties in order to get these amendments through. But we need your help, too. You can do this by contacting your MEP and telling them why ISDS must be opposed.
For more information on TTIP, ISDS and what we are trying to achieve, see: