There have been some interesting developments on the TTIP deal over the last few weeks.
Reports in the US suggest that the TTIP negotiations are unlikely to be concluded before President Obama leaves office. This opens up the negotiations to the incoming US President, due to be elected in November. The EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, has said negotiators should be approaching the “end game” by this summer but indicated she would not pursue anything less than a “comprehensive” deal despite Obama’s limited time left in office.
The German Magistrates Association have thrown a potential spanner into the negotiations by issuing a statement that the proposed Investment Court System (ICS) isn’t legal or necessary. This organisation, which represents German judges, said: "The German Magistrates Association has serious doubts whether the European Union has the competence to institute an investment court. An ICS would not only limit the legislative powers of the Union and the Member States; it would also alter the established court system within the Member States and the European Union."
The ICS system had been proposed by the EU as an alternative to the hugely controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system. This system would allow for courts to be set up, in secret, for companies to sue nation states. Examples of this include Philip Morris, the global tobacco firm, being able to sue Australia and Uruguay for putting cigarettes in plain packaging or printing health warnings on them as it jeopardised Philip Morris’ future profits.
Whenever the ISDS system has been put out to the people of Europe for their consultation, it has been roundly condemned. Nearly 3.3million Europeans have signed ‘Stop TTIP’ petitions.
“If we can’t agree, then we are better off with an agreement where investors access the existing regular legal system,” said Jude Kirton-Darling, a Labour MEP who has been closely involved with the negotiations. “Investors should go to the same courts like every normal citizen or local companies.” I thoroughly agree with Jude on this point.
The next set of US:EU negotiations on TTIP are timetabled for April and July. Another update will follow on this website once we hear more about developments.