Nessa Childers said today that ‘very few people were aware of the current EU US trade talks, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the possible negative impact the trade deal could have on social and public health in Ireland and the EU’.
The Independent MEP was speaking at a cross-party protest held by MEPs outside the reading room, against the secretive nature of the negotiations. Only the members of the International Trade Committee of European Parliament are allowed to consult the around 1000-page long draft, behind closed doors, under strict security conditions aimed at preventing the dissemination of any part of the document.
‘The talks are seen by many as merely a trade deal, that will bring inward investments into the EU, but hardly anyone seems to know anything about the details of the talks. This is not surprising because it’s being negotiated in secrecy by EU and US trade representatives, yet the deal could involve compromising on European environmental and food safety standards, and open public services to private tender.
Supporters of the trade talks and these include Ireland, say that the deal could create 400,000 extra jobs in the EU, and bring least €100 billion into the EU economy. However trade union analysts dispute these job creation figures.
‘Of equal concern regarding the TTIP is the supposed lobbying by corporations to weaken recent financial reforms and labour rights. It is of utmost importance that existing EU standards for consumer protection and personal data be safeguarded in the negotiations and the EU should not sacrifice these fundamental rights to free trade.
‘Most worrying of all is that the deal could involve a mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement. This would allow big corporations to sue governments through closed arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which would by-pass domestic courts and parliaments.
‘The new EU Commission President, Mr. Juncker, vowed, at a hearing in my political group, the Socialists and Democrats, to remove such provisions in any final deal with the United States. He rightly said that the EU’s jurisdictions have properly functioning legal systems and that we don’t need parallel, private arbitration courts to protect particular interests.
‘However, there is a concern that US companies could simply use its Canadian subsidiaries to mount such challenges through the backdoor. We must not allow this to happen. The talk must be made more transparent and open to scrutiny’, concluded Ms Childers.