Nessa Childers, Independent MEP for Dublin, expressed dissatisfaction at the position adopted today by the European Parliament on the ongoing trade talks between the EU and the US.
The European Parliament approved a text stating its current position on the talks conducted by the European Commission with the US authorities, on behalf of the whole of the EU, towards a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Parliament will have the final say on the approval of the agreement once both parties settle on a final text.
Ms. Childers was a leading, vocal opponent of an arbitration clause that empowered US multinational corporations to claim compensation from Member States in private and confidential proceedings, whenever public decision-making impinged on their profit expectations stemming from trade agreement provisions.
This is known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism – ISDS.
The final compromise reached today still included support for a permanent, publicly appointed state arbitration panel.
Ms. Childers said:
“I am not satisfied with this outcome, as I had co-tabled an amendment calling for the outright exclusion of any arbitration scheme giving big business exclusive rights to claim astronomical sums in compensation for measures such as public interest legislation.
“I was part of a bloc of MEPs who persuaded our colleagues that private arbitration with confidential proceedings was no way to settle differences between investors and developed countries with perfectly adequate judicial systems where all physical and legal persons are treated equitably.
“I don’t think we took a decisive enough stance today to put an end to this sort of exclusive, parallel judiciary that the likes of the tobacco industry have been abusing to, for instance, challenge public health measures.
“A majority of MEPs seem happy enough with a number of safeguards and caveats but nobody has yet explained to us why we need to bring to our transatlantic trade relations a variant of a dated scheme set up to deal with volatile regimes overseas in past decades.
“Transatlantic trade and investment is alive and well, and my country has reaped the benefits of it. Have we ever heard of a US investor baulking at setting up shop in Ireland because of a lack of trust in our laws?
“The work of many of my colleagues in my group and beyond, on this file, is worthy of praise. A lot has been done to defend labour and environmental standards, as well as to safeguard the role and status of public services.
“Still, it is regrettable that we failed to build a majority to say no to provisions that put us at a very high risk of regulatory fright and regulatory chill, especially over unnecessary measures our legal system does not necessitate.
“That is a red line I will not cross when the final text comes to Parliament for our consent.