Advanced search

TTIP. Should we consider leaving the EU after all?

(16 Posts)
confusedandemployed Mon 06-Jul-15 20:26:08

DH has just explained TTIP to me. I'd never heard of it before but frankly it sounds bloody terrifying.
I'm a dyed-in-the-wool socialist and the bile is rising at the thought, but in the event that TTIP does go ahead, is it in out interests to bow out of the EU after all.
Genuine question, I just don't know.

claig Mon 06-Jul-15 21:13:20

No because a Tory government is much more likely to sign up to TTIP, GM food, Monsanto stuff, fracking etc than the EU would.

claig Mon 06-Jul-15 21:16:42

As of course would a Labour government too. None of them will give us a referendum and ask the people, that would be democracy.

Rhianna1980 Mon 06-Jul-15 22:41:09

Make yourself heard and sign the TTIP petition.

Whether we stay in the EU or not we don't want it all together.

eurochick Mon 06-Jul-15 22:43:02

The TTIP hysteria is ridiculous. The UK is already party to many similar treaties (104 when I last checked). The world hasn't ended.

Isitmebut Mon 06-Jul-15 23:16:47

Even though I am EU undecided, but leaning towards 'OUT', I’m with eurochick

TTIP opens markets between the U.S. and the EU, but no one in the U.S. can FORCE a contract out of anyone in the EU, or no EU/UK company competing in America can force a contract out of a U.S. provider of services.

Companies already have legal protection and recourse against numb-nut governments pulling out of commercial contracts they’ve entered but then change their minds thereby putting unreasonable costs on a companies shareholders e.g. newly elected government reviews;

- The UK government NHS I.T. system, meant to link the whole service up, went well over budget and cost what, £15 billion, and was not a success as NO ONE ASKED THE NHS USERS what they wanted - so the Contract had to be cancelled - and the result to date used as best the NHS could.

- The UK government order for two Aircraft Carriers, they were too large for our needs, costing more and more as penalties for delays built up, and as we could not afford to put airplanes on the things in 2010 (with a £157 billion annual budget deficit and an additional £38 billion Defence black hole) the government tried to cancel one more than half built one – but the penalties meant it would cheaper to carry on.

My point being, a company trying to protect their shareholders is NOT new, so WHAT is the big difference between the pre and post socialist bogyman TTIP, please?

Hullygully Tue 07-Jul-15 15:05:42

Secret offshore courts are quite new.

Apparently our courts aren't fit for purpose, or should that be for the purposes of, global companies.

Isitmebut Tue 07-Jul-15 15:43:37

"Secret offshore courts" sound extremely iffy, never mind new, please could you qualify with a link from a reputable source?

Hullygully Tue 07-Jul-15 15:55:54

If you google TTIP, it's available everywhere. It's been in the public domain for some time, even 38 degrees or one of them have a petition about it.

prh47bridge Tue 07-Jul-15 19:30:42

It is also rubbish.

What the reports are talking about is Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. To put it in simple language, governments can do what they want. When they take someone's property they must compensate them for having done so. The system that decides on that compensation should not be under the control of the government being sued because there are a lot of governments that simply cannot be trusted on this kind of issue. All governments sign up to such systems because it is regarded as undiplomatic to distinguish between countries run by crooks and those that aren't. So in essence the argument of those opposing ISDS is that they don't want a legal system that allows people to sue governments that have stolen from them.

Hullygully Tue 07-Jul-15 19:39:08

Put like that, it sounds so reasonable.

But these tribunals are secret as in non-disclosed to the public, and also again mean a loss of national sovereignty: for eg no one country can decide that they would like to sell their fags in plain packages because that damages commercial interests. Which is why Philip Morris are suing the Canadian govt:

Philip Morris is currently suing the Australian government for enacting a law that requires all cigarettes to be plain packaged, which has been shown to reduce smoking in young people. Plain packaging requires health warnings to cover 75 percent of the packs front, with no branding except for the name of the cigarette. The tobacco industry has reacted in a predictable fashion, starting a multimillion dollar campaign against the law and suing the Australian government.

What is Philip Morris suing the government for? Are they arguing that plain packaging is ineffective or denying the link between branding and youth smoking? It wouldn’t be surprising, they’ve denied plenty of research before. But they are not suing the government for these reasons, they are suing for one thing and one thing only: profit.

Phillip Morris is using a popular instrument under public international law called an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). This wonderfully pro-corporate mechanism was first introduced in 1959, in a trade agreement between Germany and Pakistan, and has since been implemented in thousands of trade and investment treaties around the world. It has become increasingly prominent since the 1990’s, and is a notable part of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994.

Basically, this instrument allows foreign investors to sue governments through international law whenever the government passes a domestic law or new regulation that may hurt the companies profit rate. These regulations could be anything, from enforcing plain packaging of cigarettes to protecting the environment to even protecting the health of its citizens. The thinking behind this instrument was to encourage more foreign investment around the world; a sort of corporate insurance policy for political disruption.

Since the mid 90’s, however, the ISDS has been increasingly exploited by multi-national corporations to bully governments who are trying to protect their environment or people, like Australia. In the early nineties, there were hardly any ISDS cases filed; today there are nearly 60 cases filed annually and over 500 are currently in arbitration.

The ability of a corporation to sue a country with this instrument depends solely on what treaties their recognized governments have signed together. For example, while Philip Morris is an American company, they are using a 1993 trade agreement between Honk Kong and Australia which had an ISDS provision in it. To do this, Philip Morris had to rearrange its assets to become a Hong Kong investor because they could not sue under United States-Australia trade agreements. Now, Philip Morris Asia is suing Australia.

Another recent example comes between Germany and Sweden. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the German government, well known for its renewable energy programs, decided to shut down its nuclear power plants to focus on clean renewable, something that every government should be doing for the futures sake. Vattenfall, a Swedish utility company that had operated two nuclear plants in Germany, has sued for compensation through an ISDS provision.

This suit against Germany and many other countries has revealed the danger of this instrument that was created a half century ago. In Canada, after the Quebec government filed a moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing for natural gas, Canadian energy company Lone Pine shifted its headquarters to the United States to sue its own country through the NAFTA agreement, which includes the ISDS provision. The United States and Canada had pushed for the ISDS to secure investments in politically unstable Mexico. This is not the first time Canadian government has been sued by corporations through NAFTA; they have lost seven out of nearly 20 cases, costing them at least $158 million to American companies.

ISDS cases notoriously lack transparency, and the handful of private industry lawyers who work on them are usually paid handsome rates of $700-1000 an hour. Three private attorneys are chosen for arbitration; one by the foreign investor, one by the government, and one by both parties. The investor or corporation has the right to select the rules and venue, such as the World Bank, International Chamber of Commerce, or the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Additionally, many of the selected attorneys alternate between positions of “suing” governments and “judging” cases, which critics argue is a major conflict of interest

prh47bridge Tue 07-Jul-15 21:55:03

I doubt Philip Morris will get anywhere with their case. They are trying it on. But shall we take a look at the Vattenfall case more closely.

Vattenfall is publicly owned. The Swedish government owns all of it. The Germans decided to phase out nuclear power. They have every right to make that decision. That means closing the two nuclear power plants Vattenfall own in Germany. Those plants are worth around $5billion. So the Swedish government has lost $5billion as a result of the German government's decision. That is what the dispute is about. You are therefore saying that there is something wrong with a legal system that makes the German government pay compensation for taking another government's property.

And just for clarity, ISDS is a form of arbitration, hence the way the arbitrators are appointed (one by the investor, one by the state and one by agreement). It is normal for arbitration to be confidential. This allows for a constructive, non-political approach to the case.

Hullygully Wed 08-Jul-15 12:03:07

I doubt Philip Morris will get anywhere with their case.

That is not sadly an argument.

Unfortunately I am so busy arguing about Greece, I haven't got time to argue about this too. But I do know the interests of large global corporations are very far away from those of the rest of us. Be very afraid.

Ayn Rand is winning the day.

prh47bridge Wed 08-Jul-15 12:27:27

That is not sadly an argument.

How about a different argument then.

You are basically objecting to ISDS on the basis of some of the cases brought before it rather than the decisions actually being made. You don't like the people bringing those cases or the claims they are making. You could similarly argue that we should abolish the civil courts because some of the people making claims are unpleasant and the claims they bring are ludicrous.

Imagine that, instead of nuclear power, Vattenfall was the largest supplier of renewable energy in Europe with Germany as its main customer. Suppose Germany decided to close down all renewable energy generation and instead move to fossil fuels. As a result Vattenfall faced a huge loss which could force it to close unless it received adequate compensation. Would you still be in favour of removing the mechanism that allows them to claim?

Removing ISDS would allow any state to appropriate the assets of investors (many of whom will not be global corporations) without compensation. Whilst most states would not do this there are some that are run by crooks who would happily take advantage. That is why ISDS is necessary. And, of course, ISDS is not something new being introduced with TTIP. It already exists.

prh47bridge Wed 08-Jul-15 12:29:53

And actually it is an argument. What matters is not whether or not people can bring cases. It is whether or not they can win them. If we deprive corporations large and small of the right to bring a case we will stop the deserving as well as the undeserving.

Gemauve Wed 08-Jul-15 15:16:57

That is not sadly an argument.

Yes it is. People bring all sorts of ludicrous court cases in the UK civil courts. Courts exist, in part, to throw out ludicrous cases. Ludicrous cases are not a reason to close down courts.

A prime example would be employment tribunals. There are some genuinely deranged employment tribunal cases. Is that an argument to close employment tribunals?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now