24 April 2013

Please Write to MEPs *Now* about TAFTA/TTIP

There's an important vote in INTA today (25 April) on the transatlantic trade agreement (TAFTA/TTIP), and there are some crucial issues that you might like to convey to your MEP, especially if they are on the INTA committee. La Quadrature du Net has put together a splendid page explaining which amendments to the proposed draft resolution need to be adopted, and which rejected. There's also a list of MEPs on the INTA committee, so you can check if there's yours.

Here's what I've sent to my MEP:

My fear is that attempts may be made to turn this treaty into ACTA by the backdoor, and I'm sure that none of us really wants to go through all that again. I'd therefore like to urge you and your colleagues on INTA to reject Amendment 115, and to adopt Amendment 121.

I'd also like to mention the problems with investor-state disputes. As you doubtless know, Eli Lilly is suing the Canadian government for $100 million because the Canadian courts decided that Eli Lilly's patent application did not meet the stated requirements (I wrote an article about it here: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130208/03441521918/canada-denies-patent-drug-so-us-pharma-company-demands-100-million-as-compensation-expropriation.shtml).

Eli Lilly wishes to use the investor-state dispute mechanism to overturn a legal, valid decision by the courts, following established Canadian law, simply because the company is not happy with it. As you can see, this threatens the sovereignty of any nation that agrees to such mechanisms, which were brought in for countries that had poor legal systems.

That is not the case for the EU and US, so the investor-state dispute mechanism is unnecessary, but represents a grave threat to not just every country in the EU, but the European Parliament itself, which could see its laws overruled by secret arbitration courts. I would thus urge you to accept Amendment 164 and exclude investor-state dispute mechanisms from the mandate.
Finally, I would like to ask that Amendment 174 be accepted. This requires the US to agree to transparency – something that was sadly lacking in ACTA, and which caused huge problems there. To those who say that it is not possible to reveal secret documents without compromising the negotiations, there is a simple answer: make public only those documents that are tabled for discussion. At that point, they are no longer secret, and therefore no advantage can be lost by releasing them. Documents that have not yet been tabled can be kept secret. Transparency would allow European citizens to follow and be engaged by the negotiations, rather than kept in the dark and alienated from them.

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