The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) poses a threat to democratic decision-making, requiring locally and nationally elected authorities to give priority to freedom of trade over the public interest. Decisions about local services, investment and jobs, and even food safety and environmental protection will be regulated by terms secretly being established during current TTIP negotiations.
One clause of this trade agreement includes an Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) process – allowing disputes between foreign investors and governments to be settled in an international arbitration panel (a privately appointed board of lawyers separate from local legislation). These types of settlements already exist in several bi-lateral agreements, and have a very negative track record worldwide. There are 127 known ISDS cases in EU government courts in 2014.1
The German parliament is currently being sued by a Swedish company, under the ISDS provisions in the Energy Charter Treaty, for passing amendments to the Atomic Energy Act that required 8 nuclear plants to stop operating and the remaining, more recent nuclear power plants to phase out their operations by 2022, a decision which was taken after the Fukushima disaster. Vattenfall is suing Germany for €4.7 billion for loss of future profits from the nuclear ban.2
The US company Metalcald took action in international courts against the municipality of Guadalcazar in Mexico after the company was stopped from constructing a waste disposal site because of concerns about water pollution. Mexico was ordered to pay $16.6 million in compensation.
The largest known case amounts to around $2.3 billion given to Occidental, an oil company, lost by the government of Ecuador over the termination of an oil-concession contract.3
Uruguay government is under threat from Philip Morris, a company that is trying to use ISDS to stop proposed tobacco regulations (requiring health warning on cigarette packets) which could restrict tobacco trade.4
When taking into consideration Malta’s relatively minuscule population and GDP, it is very worrying that the Maltese government could be subjected to such pay-outs in the near future, potentially costing taxpayers millions of euro.
In response to the dubious track record of such processes, an international movement of cities, municipalities and regions are criticizing TTIP or declared themselves TTIP-free zones. They are urging national governments, Members of the European Parliament and European leaders to act in the interests of democracy and to uphold civilian sovereignty.
Amendments to the document will be subject to a plenary vote on Wednesday, 8th July in Strasbourg Parliament. Friends of the Earth Malta calls on Maltese MEPs to vote for amendments that will seek alternative democratic solutions to the ISDS cause, which should be omitted from the TTIP document. In principle Friends of the Earth Malta, and its International partner organizations believe the TTIP agreement should be voted down in its entirety when the time comes. The TTIP package puts democracy at the mercy of corporate lobbyists.