[A2k] [ttip] FFII letter to European Parliament Trade committee on agreement with US

Ante Wessels ante at ffii.org
Mon Apr 22 02:05:55 PDT 2013


FFII letter to European Parliament Trade committee on agreement
with US
http://acta.ffii.org/?p=1836
with links

April 22, 2013
By Ante

Today the FFII sent a letter to the European Parliament
committee on International Trade. Wednesday 25 April 2013 the
committee will vote on 198 amendments to a draft resolution on
the EU – US trade agreement (TTIP / TAFTA)

Text as pdf, or below:

22 April 2013

Dear Members of the International Trade committee,

We are writing to express our concerns with the proposed trade
agreement with the US (TTIP). We invite you to take our concerns
into account when voting on the amendments to the draft
resolution on the TTIP.

In this letter we argue that citizens have a right to openness;
that all measures in the agreement have to fully respect our
rights enshrined in human rights instruments, including the UN
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
that the agreement has to exclude intellectual property rights;
and that the Parliament has to step in and defend democracy and
the Treaties by excluding investor to state dispute settlement
from the agreement.

Openness

The agreement will mostly attempt to deeply integrate EU and US
laws, as the trade tariffs between the EU and US are already
low. In our opinion, a deep integration of laws has to take
place in public. Negotiations in international organisations
show that openness is possible. Citizens have a right to
openness. Everyone has the right “to take part freely in an
active and informed way, and without discrimination, in any
important decision-making process that may have an impact on his
or her way of life and on his or her rights under article 15,
paragraph 1 (a)” of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. (ECOSOC, 2009)

Companies will have access to the draft texts. In the US
hundreds of advisors, many of them corporate lobbyists, are
considered cleared advisors. They have access to negotiation
documents. (FFII, 2009) The EU does not have an official way of
informing companies, but it happens in an unofficial way. (CEO,
2011) The EU can not allow discrimination, which will also
create a real risk that the negotiations will lead to a biased
result.

Human rights

According to a leaked version of the Commission’s draft mandate,
(IUST, 2013) the preamble of the agreement will refer to shared
values in such areas as human rights, fundamental freedoms,
democracy and the rule of law. In our opinion, this is not a
sufficient safeguard, as the preamble will not be binding. It is
also unclear which values are shared. For instance, all EU
member states have ratified the UN International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, while the US did not
ratify this covenant. (EP, 2013) Furthermore, regarding human
rights, European courts give a wide margin of appreciation to
the domestic authorities. The courts only step in and protect
human rights in severe cases. If the EU trades away our rights,
we are only partially protected. To protect our human rights,
all measures in the agreement will have to be balanced
themselves. All of them have to fully respect our rights
enshrined in human rights instruments, including the UN
International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights.

Intellectual property

There is a deep divide in our societies over intellectual
property rights. Exclusive rights on knowledge and culture harm
access to knowledge and culture. This threatens health, food
security and diffusion of green technology. Furthermore, before
people had computers, it took an effort to infringe copyright;
now, a mouse click is often enough. The internet made all of us
infringers, this threatens our civil rights. It is essential to
rethink copyright. In the software field, all developers may be
infringers, as there are many trivial and over broad patents. It
is also essential to rethink patent law. Trade agreements are
not the right forum for this. The agreement has to exclude
intellectual property rights, see the declaration signed by over
45 organisations: IP out of TAFTA. (PC, 2013)

Investor to state dispute settlement

An investor to state dispute settlement mechanism would create
international arbitration tribunals above our high court and our
human rights court. Multinationals will be able to sue the EU
and its member states before such tribunals if changes in law
threaten to make their profits lower. This would create a real
risk to democracy, human rights, the public interest and our
ability to solve financial crises. (Kelsey and Wallach, 2012;
NGOs, 2013; Stiglitz, 2011) Both the EU and the US have strong
protection for property, there is no need for international
arbitration tribunals.

The leaked version of the Commission’s draft mandate rightfully
notes that the agreement should not harm the EU’s and member
states’ right to adopt measures necessary to pursue legitimate
public policy objectives. But the Commission does not draw the
logical conclusion that arbitration tribunals should not be the
forums to decide whether the EU’s policy objectives are
legitimate. In fact, the Commission wants to grant these ad hoc
tribunals the power to take such essential decisions regarding
the competence of the EU, decisions which are in essence
constitutional decisions. The Commission’s proposal would
create, without a change of the Treaties, ad hoc parallel
constitutional tribunals, without a possibility to appeal to the
EU Court of Justice – the Union’s “constitutional” court. It
would be a “coup d’état” against the Union, on behalf of
multinationals. In our opinion, the Parliament has to step in
and defend democracy and the Treaties by excluding investor to
state dispute settlement from the agreement. Disagreement with
the US over the interpretation of a ratified agreement can be
solved by carefully designed state to state dispute settlement.

Yours sincerely,

Ante Wessels

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)

References

CEO (2011),
http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/lawsuit_backgrounder.pdf

ECOSOC (2009), Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, General comment No. 21, Right of everyone to take part
in cultural life (art. 15, para. 1 (a), of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), E/C.12/GC/21,
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/comments.htm

EP (2013), Question for written answer
http://icg.greens-efa.eu/pipermail/hub/2013-March/000047.html

FFII (2009)
http://action.ffii.org/acta/Analysis?action=AttachFile&do=get&target=FFII-Ombudsman-06-2009.pdf

IUST (2013),
http://www.s2bnetwork.org/fileadmin/dateien/downloads/EU_Draft_Mandate_-_Inside_US_Trade.pdf

Kelsey and Wallach, 2012, “Investor-State” Disputes in Trade
Pacts Threaten Fundamental Principles of National Judicial
Systems,
http://tpplegal.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/isds-domestic-legal-process-background-brief.pdf

NGOs, 2013, European, Canadian and Quebec organizations,
Transatlantic Statement Opposing Excessive Corporate Rights
(Investor – State Dispute Settlement) in the EU – Canada
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
http://tradejustice.ca/pdfs/Transatlantic%20Statement%20on%20Investor%20Rights%20in%20CETA.pdf

PC (2013), http://www.citizen.org/IP-out-of-TAFTA

Stiglitz, 2011, Capital restrictions letter to US
administration,
http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/CapCtrlsLetter.pdf





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