[A2k] European Parliament waives the right to be informed

Ante Wessels ante at ffii.org
Fri Dec 6 07:51:17 PST 2013

European Parliament waives the right to be informed
with links

December 5, 2013
By Ante

In an interview with Inside U.S. Trade, European Parliament
International Trade committee Chairman Vital Moreira said,
regarding the trade negotiations with the United States (TTIP /
TAFTA), that he is not now pressing the European Commission to
provide parliament members with access to U.S. negotiating
proposals, but that could change if the U.S. authorizes the
commission to share these proposals with member states.

According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
article 218 (10), the European Parliament shall be immediately
and fully informed at all stages of the procedure. Apparently,
the US demands that the EU violates its founding treaties. And
the commission and parliament gave in. That’s not a good signal,
giving in from the start. What else will we trade away?

The US is in a stronger position, the EU could use public
disclosure to strengthen its negotiation position. There is so
much at stake in these negotiations, details are crucial. It is
irresponsible that the parliament waives its constitutional
rights and gives in to secrecy demands.

In my opinion, the parliament has to correct Mr. Moreira.

Mr. Moreira also said the inclusion of investor – state dispute
settlement (ISDS) in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and
Trade Agreement (CETA) sets a precedent in favor of its
inclusion in a TTIP agreement.

"CETA is a precedent in favor of ISDS, and maybe the
conditionalities there, guarantees that surround the adoption of
ISDS in the CETA, could be also imported into TTIP," he said,
according to Inside US Trade.

Really? Mr. Moreira talks as if the controversial ISDS mechanism
in CETA is already accepted and adopted by the EU. The
negotiations are just finished, the text is still secret for
(most) members of parliaments and for the public. The
ratification process still has to start.

See what happens here? Secret negotiations, just some members of
the European Parliament (including Mr. Moreira) had (some)
access. And now it is a done deal, as far as Moreira is

This is not parliamentary oversight. The chairman of the trade
committee, the man who has to ascertain openness, citizen
participation and democratic scrutiny, ascertain legitimacy,
quality and balance, ascertain that no tunnel vision harms the
outcome, is fine with secrecy and tries to create faits
accomplis (accomplished, presumably irreversible deeds).

A chairman has to try to safeguard best procedures. In my
opinion, Mr. Moreira fails here.

Mr. Moreira is a social-democrat, he wants to create jobs. I
fully agree with this intention. He may also genuinely believe
that openness reduces the chances of an agreement being adopted.
He may be right, as there will always be trade offs.

But the crucial point is that trade agreements may have perverse
effects contrary to what was originally intended. Including on

Scrutiny is essential. Whatever good intentions, by harming
scrutiny, Vital Moreira harms the union.

Take investor – state dispute settlement, the topic Moreira
talked about. ISDS transfers sovereignty in two ways. It gives
investors equal standing to states. And it gives investment
lawyers the power to decide in conflicts between investors and

Investors and investment lawyers are natural allies. Giving
investment lawyers so much power creates a captive in-crowd (a
group sharing beliefs and interests). The “guarantees that
surround the adoption of ISDS in the CETA” Moreira talked about?

Like a cat plays with a mouse, captive in-crowds play with
safeguards. Tear them down slowly. Never give people the power
to be cruel on you, at some point they will.

The union struggles with a euro with design flaws, the union’s
worst crisis ever (and self inflicted).

The world may face a devastating climate change. If there is one
thing we can not use, it is a transfer of sovereignty to
multinationals and investment lawyers. There is a serious risk
this will make problems unsolvable.

Vital interests are at stake.

The European Parliament has to rise to the occasion, and reject
ISDS. As things stand now, a massive citizens’ mobilisation may
be needed. Protests against ISDS have to go viral.

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