TTIP and the role of the European Parliament

I would say that whatever compromise we will have re TTIP at the end some groups in the EP will simply oppose TTIP due theirs ideological views, but on the other hand it seems that the debate in the EP is making the process of TTIP negotiations more transparent. So how how do you see the role of the European Parliament re TTIP? Read few comments.

Ferdi De Ville, Associate Professor, Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University

I agree that some of the political groups in the EP will probably oppose TTIP anyway (GUE/NGL [radical-left], the Greens, and most on the extreme right like the Front National). In the case of the extreme right, this is because of sovereignty reasons, in the case of the left groups because they disagree with the current free trade regime, about which they think it puts profits or other economics considerations before people and the environment. The socialists and democrats (S&D) have more double feelings about TTIP: on the one hand they are internationalists by nature and they are of course interested in giving a boost to growth and jobs in this prolonged crisis. On the other and, they fear that TTIP might also lead to a lower of protection of workers and the environment. Therefore, they ask for guarantees that TTIP will not lead to a (direct) lowering of standards and ask that ISDS will be excluded or drastically reformed.

The activity of the EP on TTIP indeed increases the transparency of such trade negotiations as TTIP and I think that is a good thing. This activity has partly been brought by civil society activism. Trade negotiations, and TTIP in particular, might seem boring and technical with lots of abbreviations but they touch upon the way we regulate the market and, hence, on our daily lives. Hence, it is good that more and more people become interested and involved in the debate. However, I think the debate has the make some progress. It is currently focused on a couple of exaggerated headlines: on the side of the proponents on exaggerated growth promises, on the side of the opponents on the threat of chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef, GMO’s or ISDS. It would be a very positive thing if TTIP would lead to a more fundamental debate about what the objectives of our trade policy should be and how we want to achieve these. In my opinion, the defining challenges of our time are climate change, inequality (as recognized by Obama, the World Economic Forum, etc.) and tax evasion and trade policy should be at the service of combating these challenges.

Dennis Novy, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Warwick

In my view, the European Parliament plays a crucial role. In case of a successful negotiation, they will have to approve the TTIP deal. And of course, negotiators take this role into account now already when thrashing out the details with their US counterparts. And on a more regular basis, the International Trade Committee of the Parliament discusses details on the negotiations. This also plays an important role. Overall, the European Parliament represents a range of views, and it is important that all of them get a fair hearing and have a chance to influence the process

Gabriel Siles-BrüggeLecturer in Politics, University of Manchester

I think the European Parliament has an important role to play in the TTIP debate because it has that scrutiny role. From my perspective it’s good to see MEPs hold the Commission much more to account than in previous trade talks, which were conducted far less transparently. The EP can also serve as a conduit for other interests (eg civil society) other than business, which have traditionally had privileged access to trade negotiators in the Commission. There are of course still issues in terms of transparency, as the consolidated TTIP text being worked on by both sides has not been released yet, and the degree to which EU trade policymaking has been democratised, the EP only gets a say at the end on whether TTIP is approved where it risks being presented with a fait accompli. But on the whole I think that greater EP involvement is generally a good thing.

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