On the 3rd December Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood led a debate in the National Assembly on the importance of increasing trade between Wales and the USA. Plaid believes that public services, including the National Health Service, should be exempt from the effects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
TTIP – RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
France has announced that it will not sign up to the TTIP in 2015, and will not agree to the inclusion of the highly controversial ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement). This is highly significant and follows Germany’s earlier indication that it could not agree to the inclusion of ISDS. Other European governments, including the UK, are pushing ahead.
ISDS is a secretive arbitration process whereby multinational corporations can sue democratically elected governments if they feel that the national law in a country not only reduces their actual profits but also prevents them from making potentially greater profits. This is something that Plaid strongly opposes, as it could lead to privatisation of our public services by the back door.
The European Commission suspended the TTIP talks on the Investor State Dispute Settlement in January to carry out a public consultation. The influential Corporate Europe Observatory gives another example of what this means in practise. It revealed that oil and gas company Lone Pine is suing Canada for CAN$250 million after the province of Quebec imposed a moratorium on shale gas extraction (fracking) because of environmental concerns.
The ISDS consultation recorded 150,000 responses, with the majority calling for it to be taken out of the agreement.
There has also been analysis of the promise of millions of new jobs. The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) was asked by the UK government to analyse the impact on the economy. Their figure of £10 billion in gains by 2027 depended on scrapping three quarters of non-tariff barriers in the chemicals, automotive and business/ICT sector. This is not even being discussed in TTIP and is simply not credible.
The CEPR, in another report for the Commission, could not predict any general impact on employment from TTIP, but it did see a risk of EU and US jobs actually being lost!
The European Parliament will adopt a report with recommendations to the Commission on TTIP. It will be wide-ranging and discussed by many committees, including the Culture and Transport committees on which Plaid’s Jill Evans MEP sits. The Conservative group, the ECR, opposed having this report. The timetable is expected to be short, with the vote possibly as early as March 2015.
Some of the committees will hold public hearings to examine the detail of different aspects of TTIP.
Plaid Cymru adopted a strongly worded resolution opposing TTIP back in our October conference. Members of the RCN and Unison gave strong backing to our position. Plaid will continue to campaign against TTIP.