On 9 October the European Union released the text of its “negotiating mandate” for the TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty that it is negotiating with the European Union.
Trade commissioner Karel De Gucht sought to make political capital by saying the release of the mandate “further underlines our commitment to transparency as we pursue the negotiations”. De Gucht added: “And it allows everyone to see precisely how the EU wants this deal to work.”
Of course, it does nothing of the kind. There is not an ounce of information in the document about what is actually being negotiated. But there is, implicitly, one telling admission.
The negotiation mandate is essentially a document submitted by the Commission to the EU Council of Ministers (made up of representatives of governments of EU member states) and approved by the Council in June 2013. Since then, a full 16 months ago, it is the first document released by the EU on the TTIP talks. And we have been told nothing about what has been conceded since.
What the European Union is not saying is that the mandate itself was written only after extensive secret negotiations with the US about how the negotiations should proceed. Several governments also provided input, as did the multinationals, primarily represented by the City of London.
There is, though, one new nugget. And it’s further proof of the EU’s duplicity.
So 16 months after the mandate was agreed, all we have is what has been common knowledge. For example, that the EU agreed to negotiate a “free trade” deal that includes the hated concept of Investor State Disputes Settlement (which makes companies powerful and rich, and states powerless and poor). There is, though, one new nugget. And it’s further proof of the EU’s duplicity.
As Workers noted in May 2014, De Gucht appeared before the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee in April to answer mounting criticism of the ISDS concept.
We wrote: “Asked why he was negotiating an agreement with ISDS – which makes companies rich at the expense of taxpayers – he started backtracking. “[ISDS] is not a point of my religion,” he said. “If the United States agreed to simply drop it and have all the existing agreements so be it, but they don’t. I already submitted it to them and they don’t.”
But as is clear from the negotiating mandate, the European Union had already conceded to the US the principle of ISDS before the current, official, negotiations began in Washington on 8 July 2013.
And speaking to Reuters news agency on 16 October this year, De Gucht moved away from his apparently equivocal stance of May and said critics “should realise that there will be no TTIP without an ISDS”. De Gucht’s term as an EU Commissioner expires at the end of October. His successor, Sweden’s Cecelia Malström, suggested the opposite when preparing to be grilled by the European Parliament as part of her confirmation in the post – then later retracted what she had said. The doublespeak continues.