Thursday 19 December 2013

Protect The UK's Sovereign Interests

From the GMB, which of course knows that what it demands here is not going to happen, meaning that Labour must and will vote against the deal itself: 

UK Must Secure Opt Out From Disputes Mechanism In New EU/US TTIP Talks Resuming 16 December To Safeguard UK National Sovereignty

Mechanism limits the ability of member states to decide what sectors like the NHS should stay in the public sector and hands power to unelected and unaccountable corporations says GMB. 

Talks resume in Washington today (on 16 December) to carry on negotiations to reach a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States. These talks started on 8th July 2013 also in Washington.

The TTIP will include an Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. The ISDS machinery is ostensibly designed to depoliticise investment disputes and to create a forum that offers investors a fair hearing before a supposedly independent, neutral and qualified tribunal. This mechanism is included in previous US free trade agreements and bilateral trade agreements, notably the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

GMB is re-iterating its call for the UK Government to ensure that the UK secures an opt out to ISDS mechanism clauses in any future TTIP. See GMB press release of 8th July [included in the link] setting out GMB position.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer, said “GMB does not want to see limits on the ability of member states to decide what sectors like the NHS should stay in the public sector or see power handed to unelected and unaccountable corporations.

That is why GMB is calling on the UK Government to protect the UK’s sovereign interests by refusing to contemplate any agreement that includes controversial provisions whereby transnational companies can sue nation states in secret courts presided over by unaccountable corporate lawyers.

Despite repeated warnings by trade unions and other civil society organisations, the European Commission is determined to press ahead with ISDS, thus allowing transnational companies to effectively dictate what member states can and cannot do with public policy.

ISDS already exists in bilateral trade deals and is enshrined in NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, but this would be the first EU-wide investment protection treaty.

Given that 50% of EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) comes from the US and over half the FDI in the US comes from the EU, the potential for litigation is apparent. Of the current ISDS cases in dispute around the world, 64% emanate from Europe or the United States. 15 EU member states have already faced one or more investor state challenges and the Czech Republic is the fifth most sued country in the world.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, said, “The American Chamber of Commerce says that the investment chapter of the trade agreement with the EU should become the gold standard for all other investment agreements.

Their desire for what is effectively a transatlantic corporate bill of rights must not be allowed to come to fruition. As talks on the deal reopen today we are calling on David Cameron and the UK Government not to sacrifice the public interest on the altar of corporate profit.” 


Contact Bert Schouwenburg 07974 251 764 or Kathleen Walker Shaw 07841 181 549 GMB press office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823

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