COMMONS

Evidence-based approach must be at heart of TTIP debate

25 March 2015

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could bring significant benefits to the UK but the debate on the agreement is marked by ‘dog-whistle’ politics on each side, says a report from the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee.

The BIS Committee finds that while a lack of detail on negotiations makes it difficult to assess the benefits of TTIP, all involved in the debate – campaigners, lobbyists, business groups, the UK Government and the European Commission – must ensure they take an evidence-based approach when assessing TTIP’s potential.

Adrian Bailey, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee, said:

"Too much of the debate on TTIP has been based on oversimplification and misrepresentation of arguments. TTIP has the potential to have a significant impact on the UK economy, on jobs and on public services but the 'dog-whistle' politics on both sides has made a considered approach to the agreement problematic. More detail needs to be made available to allow greater public scrutiny of this extensive trade agreement. Campaigners, lobbyists, business groups, Government and the European Commission also need to do more to engage with the evidence rather than make unsupported claims about the benefits or risks of TTIP."

Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions

The Committee believes the case has not yet been made for Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions (ISDS) in TTIP and is deeply concerned at the Government’s intention not to submit a formal response to the European Commission's consultation on ISDS provisions. The Committee calls on the Government to submit a formal response, open to public scrutiny, which argues for 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.

The Committee also urges the Government to ensure an unequivocal statement guaranteeing the protection of public services at present—and the right to expand them in the future—is set out in any ISDS provisions.

Adrian Bailey, Chair of BIS Committee, said:

"Concerns have been raised about ISDS provisions in TTIP. We are not convinced the case has been made for the inclusion of ISDS clauses and we urge the Government to set out a clear statement guaranteeing the protection of public services at present—and the right to expand them in the future—is set out in any ISDS provisions. Several Select Committees have now considered the potential impact of TTIP and we hope the Government will now share a greater amount of this information to help better inform the public about the detail of any future agreement and the issues at stake. TTIP negotiations will continue into the next Parliament and we hope that our successor Committee will continue to scrutinise the negotiations as a matter of priority."

Further information

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