Legal Affairs Committee: ISDS and IPR must be excluded from TTIP

By EDRi · April 22, 2015

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) resolution in the European Parliament is coming to a conclusion. 16 April 2015 was the deadline for European Parliament committees to submit their opinions to the leading committee, the International Trade committee (INTA). EDRi-gram previously reported about the positive vote of the Civil Liberties Justice and Home Affairs committee (LIBE), mainly on data protection and privacy. Today, we report about the Legal Affairs committee (JURI) Opinion.

JURI Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted an Opinion against investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and the inclusion of “Intellectual Property Rights”, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in the TTIP negotiations. The Opinion adopted in JURI also asks for more transparency and defends the right to regulate, among other subjects.

First, the adopted Opinion text clearly states that “there is no need for any private investor state dispute settlement mechanisms in this agreement” and calls the Commission to take into account the big majority (97%) of the responses to the public consultation, which opposed ISDS. In fact, the protection of foreign investors can be achieved without ISDS. As a joint analysis by EDRi and EDRi member Vrijschrift stated, “major international investments are almost always accompanied by contracts negotiated between governments and the investor, which often include their own dispute settlement mechanism and are tailored to the situation, and therefore do not create excessive risks for states. Furthermore, investors may take out political risk insurance and, overall, local courts and state to state arbitration complement the abovementioned negotiated contracts.”

Secondly, the JURI opinion requested the Commission not to negotiate on copyright, patents or trademarks.

Thirdly, the JURI committee calls for more transparency in the TTIP negotiations, endorsing the European Ombudsman’s decision of 6 January 2015 on transparency in TTIP – which includes the publication of all consolidated texts in its recommendations. Also, the Opinion points out that, according to the EU Treaties, “decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen”.

Regarding the right to regulate, the opinion asks the Commission to ensure that “any procedures in the context of regulatory cooperation fully respect the legislative competences of the European Parliament and the Council in strict accordance with the EU Treaties”.

In sum, this Opinion represents a victory for the rights of European citizens, because it completely overturned the draft Opinion proposed by the MEP in charge of the file, Axel Voss. The amendments approved changed the text of the Opinion, to the point that Mr Voss withdrew his name from it. Now, the Opinion carries the name of the shadow rapporteur Dietmar Kösner.

What’s next? INTA should take the Committee Opinions submitted into consideration before adopting the final text to be voted on by the full parliament. The INTA Rapporteur, Bernd Lange, received 898 amendments to his draft report, which forced postponement of the vote in the committee to 28 May 2015. Consequently, the vote by all MEPs in plenary was also postponed to 8-11 June 2015.

In the meantime, the European Commission seems to keep ignoring the results of the public consultation it conducted. Instead of opposing ISDS, it seems to be willing to put pressure on the European Parliament, and plans to presenting its “new ISDS” on 7 May 2015. We will know in the next months if the European Parliament will be able, on the contrary, to adopt a strong position against ISDS, as six Parliamentary committees have already done.

TTIP Resolution: document pool

Opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on TTIP (17.04.2015)

EDRi-gram: Data protection and privacy must be excluded from TTIP (08.04.2015)

EDRi-gram: ISDS – one month after the results of the public consultation (11.02.2015)

EDRi-gram: European Ombudsman does not see sufficient transparency in TTIP (16.04.2015)

EDRi’s red lines on TTIP (13.01.2015)

(Contribution by Aldo Sghirinzetti, EDRi intern)