05 July 2015

Urgent TTIP Vote: Please Write (Again) to Your MEPs before Wednesday

There is (another) very important plenary vote in the European Parliament on TTIP this Wednesday, when the European Parliament will vote on a resolution concerning TTIP. The first time around, the vote was pulled for tactical reasons by the pro-ISDS camp, rightly afraid that the European Parliament would reject the inclusion of this anti-democratic idea in TTIP. Now they have cobbled together a "compromise" on ISDS which simply calls it something else, without solving the fundamental problem, which is that it gives corporations unique rights to sue entire nations, with us, the public, footing the bill.  Here's the proposed amendment:
to ensure that foreign investors are treated in a non-discriminatory fashion while benefitting from no greater rights than domestic investors, and to replace the ISDS-system with a new system for resolving disputes between investors and states which is subject to democratic principles and scrutiny where potential cases are treated in a transparent manner by publicly appointed, independent professional judges in public hearings and which includes an appellate mechanism, where consistency of judicial decisions is ensured, the jurisdiction of courts of the EU and of the Member States is respected and where private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives;

The good news is that MEPs are often responsive to their constituents contacting them, especially if large numbers do so on a particular theme. So I would like to urge you to write to your MEPs, using WriteToThem, or directly, to ask them to reject ISDS in all its forms.

If you want to find out more about TTIP in general, I have written a 6000-word explanation; you can also browse through the 51 columns I have written on the topic over the last two years. Finally, there is a documentary about TTIP, which provides a superb introduction to the issues – I'm in it, but please don't let that put you off.

I've included below the letter that I have sent to my MEPs: please feel free to draw on its arguments, but I urge you to put them in your words: MEPs hate and will dismiss letters that are carbon copies of others. Individually-written communications, by contrast, are very powerful.

I hope you will excuse me writing to you again on the topic of TTIP ahead of Wednesday's plenary vote. I would like to urge you to vote against the proposed "compromise amendment" on the topic of ISDS, which supposedly addresses the problems of this system. It does nothing of the sort: it still provides corporations with unique rights against entire nations; it creates a similarly unfair system where companies can win huge awards, to be paid by the public, but the best the public can achieve is not to lose. This is the very definition of a tilted playing-field.

The avowed intent of this "compromise", and of ISDS itself, is to ensure that foreign investors are treated fairly. That is only right, but ISDS and the compromise are exactly the wrong way to go about this. If either is in place, there is no pressure to address the real problem, which is that local laws may not treat foreign investors in the same way as domestic ones. Far better to change laws to make them truly fair, than to introduce another unfair system that undermines the rule of law by creating special structures outside it.

I would therefore ask you to reject ISDS completely, as well as any attempts to introduce it in other ways, for example through the "compromise amendment".