Written by Ruth Bergan Thursday, 30 June 2016 15:05
The UK’s decision to leave the EU means that control over trade and investment policy will be transferred back to the UK. Because trade and investment policy impacts on almost every aspect of daily life here and in partner countries, the shape of the new UK approach will be of huge significance.
Successive UK governments have been strong proponents of trade agreements that require significant liberalisation and cover a wide range of issues, from government procurement to standards and regulation, often at a high cost to social and environmental goals such as securing labour rights and tackling climate change. There is therefore a significant risk that the UK approach to trade and investment could go even further in undermining these goals.
However there is also an opportunity. UK organisations and activists from a range of constituencies have long understood the huge importance of trade for achieving everything from poverty reduction to climate targets. Building on decades of campaigning on the World Trade Organisation, Economic Partnership Agreements and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a strong UK movement for trade justice can help to shape UK trade and investment policy that works for people and the planet.
The fight for trade justice is now more important than ever. The Trade Justice Movement will be working with members and allies to develop a clear, progressive vision for UK trade and investment policy. Organisations and activists alike know that the foundations for this lie in the genuine participation of the people who will be affected by these deals and of their political representatives. It also means addressing the huge power imbalances that exist between communities and corporations and between negotiating partners. Finally, it means putting trade at the service of poverty reduction, the protection of human rights and of the environment.
Written by Ruth Bergan Wednesday, 20 May 2015 14:56
In the next weeks, the European Parliament is going to determine its positions on the trade deal between the EU and the US (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP) that is currently being negotiated.
The European trade officials plan to make special rights for foreign investors and in particular an “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) part of TTIP. Two upcoming votes in the Trade Committee and the Plenary are a unique opportunity for the European Parliament to send a clear and strong signal to the EU negotiators that ISDS must not be part of TTIP.
Special rights for foreign investors are unacceptable
The TTIP negotiations have led to serious criticism by trade unions, consumer, environmental, health and other civil society organisations because of the negative impacts the agreement may have on workers, consumers and the environment. A particular cause of concern is the planned ISDS mechanism that would give foreign investors more rights than anyone else in society.
ISDS empowers foreign investors to bypass national court systems and sue states through private arbitration tribunals. It allows them to challenge laws, regulations and court decisions if they can be alleged to reduce the value of their investment (including reducing expected profits). It thus limits the capacity of democracies to pass laws to protect labour and human rights, as well as safeguards for our health and environment. Furthermore, ISDS arbitrations are carried out behind closed doors with corporate (for-profit) arbitrators, who are not accountable to the public and have a commercial interest in keeping this harmful system alive. The only ones who benefit from the ISDS system are lawyers representing companies and investors who get around laws and regulations.
From a democratic point of view ISDS is completely unacceptable. It gives foreign investors wider property rights and the possibility to circumvent national court systems, which puts our legal systems into question. The proposed reforms of ISDS would not change these fundamental problems: ISDS would still give foreign investors privileges compared to anyone else in society.
More Information on ISDS - www.no2isds.eu/en/information
You can take action on the No2ISDS website and ask the Members of the European Parliament to firmly say NO to ISDS and stand with the vast majority of citizens against ISDS and any special rights for foreign investors.
Urge them to support the following pledge:
“I reject special rights for foreign investors and in particular any investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in TTIP. I will vote against any resolution that fails to firmly reject special rights for foreign investors and an investor-state dispute settlement.”
Written by Ruth Bergan Wednesday, 06 May 2015 16:24
International investment expert Gus Van Harten has written a scathing response to the EU's reform proposals for Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
He argues that "the European Commission's most recent proposal for ISDS reflects a move away from essentially fake reforms to something potentially more meaningful. However, it is insufficient to satisfy the criteria of independence, fairness, openness, subsidiarity, and balance and does not appear reliable until backed by clear language and a negotiating red line for the proposed Canada-Europe CETA and any other agreement providing for ISDS."
The full article is available here.
Written by Ruth Bergan Wednesday, 06 May 2015 15:37
On 5 May 2015, the European Trade Commissioner Malmström presented a number of proposals to “further improve” investment protection standards and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures in the proposed EU-US trade deal (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP).
The proposals do nothing to address the concerns raised by thousands of individuals and organisations who participated in the European Commission's consultation in June 2014. Most significantly, they completely ignore the fact that Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is not needed in TTIP - significant trade happens between the EU and US without this dangerous provision.
In common with the EU-wide Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B), TJM is of the opinion that the Commission’s proposals do not contribute to any meaningful reform of the ISDS system. They
1) ignore the outcome of the Commission’s own public consultation on the issue;
2) do very little to address the fundamental problems of the ISDS system;
3) would dramatically expand the reach of ISDS, increasing the likelihood of claims against European governments;
4) are misleading in suggesting that the ISDS system was already meaningfully reformed in the recently concluded EU-Canada trade agreement (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA) and would be significantly further improved in TTIP; and
5) ignore the elephant in the room: that there is no need for ISDS.
The full statement from S2B can be read here.
Written by Ruth Bergan Monday, 19 May 2014 14:56
Monday 19 May, 7pm
Small Hall, Friends Meeting House, 173-177 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BJ
Come and meet your MEP candidates and question them on their commitment to trade justice.
• Jean Lambert, Green Party
• Jonathan Fryer, Liberal Democrats
• Seb Dance, Labour Party
• Glyn Chambers, Conservative Party
• Tbc, UKIP (invited)
Chair: John Hilary, Executive Director, War on Want
On Thursday 22nd May, we will be voting for candidates to represent us in the European Parliament. Europe takes decisions on important global issues, including trade. A major trade deal – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU. New corporate trade deals like this threaten to increase global inequality, undermine democracy and hand public service provision to multinational companies.
• What effect will this deal have on our lives here in the UK?
• How can we ensure that this deal prioritises human rights, environmental protection and labour standards?
• How can we ensure transparency and accountability in the negotiation of these deals?
Meet your European Parliamentary election candidates and hear what they have to say on these issues and what they will do to address them, if elected on 22 May.
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