Anti-US prejudice steps up a gear


Negotiations on an EU/US free trade deal are grinding slowly through the bureaucratic mechanisms on both side of the Atlantic.  The deal is called TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership – and it involves something called ISDS – the Investor/State Dispute Settlement mechanism.  It is important to stress that no final text is on the table, and may not be for some years.  When it exists, it will be published, and we will be able to see in detail what is proposed.  But various resolutions on TTIP working their way through the European parliament are propositions about how the negotiations should proceed, not a Yes/No vote on whether we accept the deal.

For context, it’s worth noting that the USA is also working on a Pacific trade deal which is likely to give Australia (for example) free access to the US market long before any EU/US deal is resolved.

Despite the early state of TTIP, we MEPs are getting hundreds of e-mails from citizens who have already made up their minds, and are stridently opposed to TTIP – though I’m not at all sure that many of these people really have a clear grasp of the issue.  For example they call on us to reject TTIP, despite the absence of a finished proposal – and the consequent fact that at this stage we have no opportunity to reject it.

A couple of caveats.  There are genuine concerns that TTIP provisions could affect Britain’s NHS, and just about everyone involved – our party, the British government, the European Commission – have given firm assurances that they will not accept any provisions that would interfere with state provision of healthcare.  Secondly, we in UKIP would far prefer to see an independent UK negotiate a bilateral deal with the USA (indeed but for the EU we would probably have had such a deal decades ago).  Bizarrely, some people say that the UK – a top ten trading nation – is “too small” to do a bilateral deal with the USA.  These people need to explain the fact that the USA has dozens of free trade deals with countries much smaller than the UK.  But given that we are currently in the EU, an EU/US free trade deal (provided the conditions are right) is a great deal better than no deal at all.

The real frenzy of TTIP opponents, however, is focussed on ISDS.  The way they tell it, ISDS will enable rapacious multinational corporations to ride rough-shod over the legitimate interests and decisions of democratic governments, and to sue them for vast amounts of money.  This proposition is a travesty.

A free trade deal is a Treaty under which the parties agree to behave in a certain way.  Virtually all treaties and contracts include terms that govern non-compliance, and provide redress for any party injured by such non-compliance.

The objectors write as if ISDS were some devilish plot dreamed up by Google and Amazon to dismantle democracy in Europe.  But in fact ISDS provisions are a commonplace in existing international treaties, and don’t seem to have given rise to serious problems.  Indeed a treaty that failed to provide mechanisms for dealing with non-compliance would hardly be worth the paper it was written on.  And if democratic governments don’t wish to comply (as is their right), the solution is simple – don’t accede to the treaty.

Dutch Liberal MEP Merietje Schaake has made a detailed study of ISDS.  She writes: “…Although TTIP has brought ISDS to the current public debate, it is not new. There are over 3000 agreements containing ISDS clauses in the world, and many of the 1400 bilateral agreements EU member states have also contain ISDS. It has become a complex patchwork, and European member states even have ISDS in agreements with each other….”

It seems to me that if a government makes commitments under a free trade agreement, and then fails to implement them, causing an investor to suffer losses, it is entirely right and proper that the injured party should seek redress.  That’s not anti-democratic.  Indeed the enforceability of contracts is an essential element of free societies and free markets.  Moreover these provisions promote investment.  They enable a company to invest in a foreign country with confidence in the protection of the treaties.  And because ISDS increases investor confidence, it encourages such investment, promoting new businesses, jobs and trade – which is what TTIP is designed for in the first place.

The mass of standard letters against TTIP which MEPs are now receiving show no grasp of these basic elements of international trade agreements.  Rather, they seem to be motivated by knee-jerk anti-Americanism and protectionism.

My job as an MEP (besides the basic task of seeking to restore the independence of our country) is to promote the security and prosperity of my constituents.  I believe that TTIP has the potential to do that, and while there are legitimate concerns that need to be taken into account in the negotiation process, I am satisfied that all parties will benefit from Transatlantic free trade.

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23 Responses to Anti-US prejudice steps up a gear

  1. Anne says:

    A War to End all Wars. 9.4.2014. Part 6 re TTIP

    I remember well that last terrible World War
    From Nineteen-Thirty-nine to forty-five
    When the bombs rained down upon us
    When to the shelters we went, to stay alive.
    To listen to the long speeches of Churchill,
    That, “Outside, the storms of war may blow,
    And the lands may be lashed with the fury of its gales”.
    Such inspiring words all of us so needed to know.

    Huddled up to the “wireless” to listen
    To every word Winston Churchill said,
    “We must not underrate the gravity”
    Oh so many times his words we read.
    He has gone down in UK History
    As the greatest Prime Minister of all,
    Oh, how we need the likes of him now,
    For our Country is heading for a fall.

    The blackest, treacherous Day of all for us,
    Although we didn’t know it, at the time,
    That there would be “no loss of essential Sovereignty”,
    When that Prime Minister told that treacherous lie.
    The deep betrayal “TODAY” by those we freely elect
    To keep secret the carefully planned T.T.I. P
    When strangers decide that our once free Country
    Will never again, ever be “FREE”.

  2. bumper says:

    Roger, having worked for and with the Americans for many years I can assure you they will accept no deal unless it is to their advantage.
    I understand that the UK isn’t even involved in the negotiations and they are being held in secret.
    I understand that both France and Germany are involved so their respective governments will have some input into deciding standards etc. we of course will have to adapt to what we are instructed.
    American standards and German DIN standards are in many ways inferior to BS this was aptly demonstrated on a gas line we installed some years ago.
    The pipe supplied was German DIN when the contract distinctly said it was to be to BS.
    Pressure testing to BS for 24 hours resulted in a fracture on the bend..
    My point is we may be signing up to some standardisation which is inferior and would be mitigated if we had representation.
    Influence within Europe. Bullshit,

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    And just when you weren’t looking?
    The Court of Justice of the European Union has banned the UK from reducing the rate of VAT on the supply and installation of energy-saving materials.
    EU directives allow governments to reduce tax on the supply of energy-saving goods and services “as part of a social policy“.The UK government believed that a tax break initiative intended to produce positive “social effects” would satisfy European regulations, but the CJEU ruled that pretty much the only way insulation can provide for “reasons of principally social interest” is if is installed in “social housing“.
    The CJEU therefore today found in favour of the European Commission, who had brought infringement proceedings against the UK.

    So we have to tax an industry if it intends to prevent an old lady from freezing to death, but it’s fine to waive the tax if the service is provided as a handout. When will this madness end?

    Negates the Queens Speech in part:

    • Jane Davies says:

      “Negates the Queens Speech in part:” Colin, it’s only a matter of time, if the UK stays in this idiots club, that the EU will find a way to do away with the monarchy so ignoring the Queen’s speech is nothing to them.

  4. Flyinthesky says:

    Sorry Roger, it’s a thinly veiled corporate facilitation exercise that will be sold to us as for our benefit. The missing element, as usual, is democratic involvement. The general populace is deemed to thick to have a valid opinion and therefore won’t be consulted. It will be presented, with much fanfare, fait accompli. The joys of (un) representative democracy.
    These things are made unnecessarily complex to ensure only bureaucrats and vested interests understand them. And we, as usual, will be left saying how’s this happened.
    If left to our own devices we could formulate trade deals of our own, quicker and cheaper without the parasitic classes being involved.

  5. omanuel says:

    Frankly, it makes no sense to vote for or against anything that isn’t written.

    That is “putting the buggy before the horse.”

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      cart before the horse in old England

    • Flyinthesky says:

      The thing is Oliver the great majority of votes will be cast on what is said and how it’s presented and in broad brush terms, It may have little semblance to what is actually written, the ubiquitous fine print. And they think We’re thick.

      • Flyinthesky says:

        “Now we’ve signed it – we had better read it”
        (Douglas Hurd, former Foreign Secretary on the Maastricht Treaty)

        “I have read some of it [the Lisbon Treaty] but not all of it.”
        (Caroline Flint, former Minister for Europe)

        Nothing has changed, I rest my case.

      • Brin Jenkins says:

        Sort of proves the point about being thick, we (or our elected representatives) do sign even when we don’t understand.

        Why have we kept voting for the usual suspects to correct matters?

      • omanuel says:

        Regretfully, western governments were Stalinized after WWII.

        There is no way the public can control government if our representatives pre-approve actions without knowing the details.

      • Flyinthesky says:

        The thing is we confer near deity status to our politicians when they’re actually just as fallible as the rest of us, albeit with a skill to present their perspective, and often someone else’s, in a palatable way.
        How many of these designated people will have read these agreements, there are many and in many areas, in their entirety let alone understand the nuances of the implications.
        The TTIP iis presented as a concept and as such who would disagree with it, most will vote on the presentation of the concept not the in depth reality.
        Now let’s transpose this to AGW, global warming, climate change or whatever the trend is to call it today, it really does all work the same.
        Who would vote against saving the planet, a reduction on the reliance of fossil fuels et al. It’s a no brainer. Trust me, it’s overwhelming support, near unanimous will have been carried on the concept with vanishingly few aware of the actual consequences.
        The people who write these things have their own, often vested interest, agendas to follow and will have a detailed plan concealed, it will be sold on the concept and the bullet points.
        These people are experts in marketing concepts and in intellectual capacity, sorry Roger no sleight intended, they would mince and eat most politicians for breakfast. They do and they have.

  6. dave roderick says:

    well roger you may think it is ok but from where i am standing this is just another takeover by corporations weather you agree or not does not matter as we the people are just fodder to be fleeced at all cost .
    if this was good for us why all the secrecy you have not been allowed to read it and anyone who has is under threat of jail if they speak of it

  7. I think the point is being missed.
    The EU negotiators take years, even decades, to arrange treaties. The EU-USA deal is quite normal.
    If we want to leave, we have to put some sort of time scale in there or we will all be dead by the time anything is fixed at all. Hence the application of Article 50 – or even 48, then the EFTA/EEA option AS A TEMPORARY MEASURE while the negotiations for out are hammered home.

  8. DICK R says:

    The eurolunatics hate the Americans because the they know that without their help post 1945 they would still be living on turnip soup as part of some Soviet empire .

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      Thats a whole new discussion Dick, we should never have fought that war, as the primary objective to help the poles was a total failure.

    • Anne says:

      Had we not have fought in that WAR-many in this World “TODAY” might never had been born. Not only were we as a family Bombed Out-living near Manchester Ship Canal in those days, we were taken from School to the pictures before the War had ended-but it was not to see a Walt Disney film-BUT THE OPENING OF BELSEN. I doubt it would be shown to young ones now-a days-but you see we were bombed night after night because we lived near the much used Manchester Ship Canal-a major target, and I guess the teachers in those Days thought as we knew exactly what the bombs could indeed do-it was time for us to learn what ‘man’ can and did do-to their fellow Man!

      • Brin Jenkins says:

        Anne it is a fact that our primary stated reason for the WW2 conflict was to aid Poland, this we failed to do, and it fell to Stalin once the conflict was over. As such it was in my opinion a waste of many lives.

        Had this conflict never been orchestrated we may have seen Edward VIII abdicate. I believe Mrs Simpson was used to get rid of him.

      • Anne says:

        Well I sure wish we had not lived by the Manchester Ship Canal in those days, for it wasn’t much fun being bombed night after night and in day time too at times.

  9. Anne says:

    If you want to find out more re TTIP click on Roger’s “Scare Stories, and TTIP” Then ask yourselves “what is the point in voting and paying to fill that House of Commons when foreigners in the EU not only Govern us, but are the ONE VOICE FOR ALL IN THE EU ON MATTERS OF TRADE TO THE MIGHTY US of A-forever, is this Treaty is ratified. No point at all in voting for or PAYING-plus expenses of course-for for anyone in the Houses of Parliament. Perhaps it is time for them ALL TO GET a “PROPER JOB”

  10. Brin Jenkins says:

    It crossed my mind that our dreadful governmental performance was designed to make the point we might be better ditching our own waste of space Government and opting for the EU. Pretty awful scenario.

  11. Anne says:

    Without any doubt at all, it is absolutely wrong to be paying foreigners to Govern us all here in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to back that up, it is indeed written in our Common Law Constitutional documents to that effect, and without any doubt at all, we are indeed forbidden to do so. As for Foreigners being the “mouth-piece” of all the people in the UK and ALL in that House of Commons-each and every one in both of those Houses of Parliament know that too.

    I now question, what is the point in having ANYONE in those two Houses in our Parliament if they cannot SPEAK for themselves and on OUR behalf, especially to the United States of America on all matters of TRADE? It is also meant to be “for all time coming” so what indeed is the point in PAYING or electing ANYONE to have a seat in the House of Commons? Are WE indeed, in voting for any one of them, acting contrary to our very own Constitution? Could it be seen that in paying our Taxes and VOTING for any one of them that obviously contribute to allowing foreigners to Govern us and by signing EU Treaties-that WE are aiding and abetting them-especially as one that has sworn my solemn Oath of Allegiance to our Queen?

    Incidentally re Australia-they speak for themselves re the proposed deal, and I would guess that if New-Zealand was to SPEAK for them-the answer would be the same as mine. If foreigners are to SPEAK for all the Countries presently trapped in the EU-there is absolutely no point in voting to have ANYONE in that House of Commons because this truly is the “tipping point” and perhaps the end of having any National Governments, especially if the EU is to SPEAK for all its Member States-for all time coming, for this TTIP is indeed just the tipping point of what is to come.

    It has been the ordinary people of this once GREAT Country that has had to don Uniforms to fight and give THEIR lives to prevent foreigners Governing this Country which even all those we freely elect have to obey-because those we have elected in good faith have ratified Treaties which should have never have been ratified by any one that has indeed so sworn that solemn Oath of Allegiance before they may take up their seat in that House of Commons, a House in which a truly GREAT Prime Minister worked night and day to keep this Country FREE FROM FOREIGN RULE.

    Will there come a day when the EU may speak for us ALL on ALL matters and FOREVER and those two Houses in Parliament remain empty forever?

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