The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an ambitious attempt by the European Union and the United States to deliver a comprehensive trade and investment treaty.
Negotiations between the two are currently underway and the Government hopes that an agreement can be reached by the end of 2015. The trade deal may be beneficial to the UK and EU economies but TTIP is not universally supported and the level of financial benefit to the UK is open to question. The lack of detail available on the negotiations means that it is difficult to assess which is the more accurate argument. However, this should not excuse the quality of debate which we have, on occasion, observed by campaigners and lobbyists on both sides of the argument. Everyone involved in the debate on TTIPcampaigners, lobbyists, the UK Government and the European Commissionmust ensure that an evidence-based approach is at the heart of any TTIP debate.
One of the key concerns about TTIP is the proposal to include Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. These provisionscommon in bilateral trade agreementsaim to protect foreign investors from illegal interference by the host government. However, campaigners have argued that such clauses could allow US healthcare investors to force the permanent privatisation of the NHS. Although this view has been rebutted repeatedly by the European Commission and the UK Government, until draft clauses are published, it will be difficult for them to convince those with concerns.
We do not believe that the case has yet been made for ISDS clauses in TTIP. The European Commission is currently consulting Member States on the ISDS provisions. We are deeply concerned that the UK Government is not planning to submit a formal response to that consultation. We disagree with this approach. We argue that a formal response should be submitted and for that response to be made available for public scrutiny. We argue that the inclusion of clauses to dismiss frivolous claims; the exclusion of any clauses which would require the State to pay in all outcomes; and a statement ensuring the right to regulate by Sovereign Nations takes precedence over an investor's right to invest is placed at the heart of the Government's response on ISDS provisions. We urge the Government to ensure that an unequivocal statement guaranteeing the protection of public services at presentand the right to expand them in the futureis set out in any ISDS provisions.
The TTIP negotiations will continue into the next Parliament. We hope that our successor Committee will continue to scrutinise the negotiations as a matter of priority.