SOCIAL democrat MEPs split over a vote on the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on Wednesday.
The European Parliament voted by 436 to 241 in favour of a motion on establishing a corporate court to deal with the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) aspect of the proposed treaty.
German members of the Social and Democratic (S&D) bloc joined conservatives and liberals in backing the motion leaving their fellow members — including the British Labour Party — to vote against it.
There was uproar from some MEPs — including members of European Parliament president Martin Schulz’s own S&D bloc — in Wednesday’s vote at what they saw as manipulation of voting procedures to ensure no anti-ISDS amendment would be voted on. The original vote scheduled for June had been postponed at the last minute by Mr Schultz out of fears that it might be lost.
The judicial panel system was proposed as a compromise to the original ISDS proposals, which would allow foreign companies to sue governments for hypothetical losses if they pass new legislation that might affect business profits.
Supporters of the compromise claim it would be more transparent and allow for appeals, but opponents dismiss it as a thin veneer of democracy on an anti-democratic treaty.
Opponents of TTIP warn that it will override national laws, force the privatisation of all public services and create a race to the bottom in labour, food and health and safety regulations.
A debate held on Tuesday highlighted divisions in the parliament, with one MEP commenting that the choice in the vote was between the wishes of European people or vested corporate interests.
War on Want director John Hilary yesterday pointed out that more than 2.3 million EU citizens had signed petitions against TTIP, “yet the European Parliament has sided with the business community against us.”
“MEPs have turned their back on the peoples of Europe, giving the green light to TTIP and its new privileged court system for US firms to use against us.
“This is nothing short of a betrayal, and we shall not forget it.”