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05 June 2015
Distorted facts, blatant lies: business group's big push to get ISDS through
Green MEPs Bart Staes and Molly Scott Cato today openly denounced the lobbying tactics of Mr Beyrer, Director-General of leading business advocate group BUSINESSEUROPE, over the contentious Investor-state Dispute System (ISDS) in TTIP. Both got hold of a lobby email sent by Beyrer to Mr Pittella, chairman of the S&D group as well as other S&D-members. The S&D are in expected to reintroduce anti-ISDS language into the final TTIP resolution, having lost the crucial language opposing ISDS in a compromise with the centre-right group the EPP, last week.
In the email Beyrer calls on the S&D to vote in favour of the contested arbitration mechanism ISDS:
"In view of next week’s plenary vote on the TTIP resolution, we call on you to give your support to the compromise reached within the INTA Committee, especially on investment protection.
The wording adopted is in our opinion balanced and allowed a wide majority of INTA Members to vote in favour of a resolution that reaffirms the guiding role of the European Parliament in the most important bilateral trade negotiation the EU is conducting, at a time where developments at WTO level are not showing enough progress.
Destroying the compromise would seriously endanger the possibility for the European Parliament to have a say and give momentum to the negotiations in a crucial time just before the US Presidential Elections. This would be a missed opportunity for the whole European Union, would weaken the negotiating position of the Commission and ultimately undermine a strong TTIP for Europe.
In light of the above, considering all the efforts put in so far by Members of the Parliament and the fact that none of the opinion-giving Committees explicitly asked at this stage for the exclusion of ISDS, we urge you to give your favourable vote to the INTA compromise next week. Yours sincerely, Markus Beyrer."
In a written response, Staes reminded Beyrer that his last statement was false: "As ENVI-rapporteur of an opinion on one of the most important legislative committees (environment, public health and food safety) Beyrer should know that ENVI adopted my report with a majority of 59 votes, by 8 against and 2 abstentions."
Paragraph 17 of Bart Stae's opinion reads as follows:
'17. Calls on the Commission to oppose the inclusion of ISDS in the TTIP as, on the one hand, this mechanism risks fundamentally undermining the sovereign rights of the EU, its Member States and regional and local authorities to adopt regulations on public health, food safety and the environment, and, on the other hand, it should be up to the courts of the EU and/or of the Member States providing effective legal protection based on democratic legitimacy to decide all expectable dispute cases competently, efficiently and in a cost-saving manner;'
Staes added: "At least three other committees from the EP adopted similar paragraphs. I therefore urged Mr. Beyrer to be correct when lobbying on behalf of his business and investors community clients."
Voting and Values
Molly Scott Cato called this email more "evidence of the influence of corporate lobbying on the controversial EU-US TTIP trade deal negotiations."
In the email to members of the European Parliament, BUSINESSEUROPE requests that ‘efficient and reliable instruments to enforce investors’ rights are put in place.’ The email also calls on MEPs to endorse a compromise amendment reached in the Trade Committee last week on the ISDS clause, which would potentially allow corporations the right to sue governments over laws which affect their profits, even if these laws protect public health or workers’ rights. Greens have always made an explicit stand against ISDS and voted against the amendment in the Trade Committee last week.
Scott Cato, who has taken a strong stand against TTIP, said: “This blatant business lobbying reveals perhaps why MEPs are lowering their guard against a treaty that is a serious threat to our democracy, workers’ rights and our environmental standards. This email demonstrates clearly that TTIP has become a corporate charter and big business are pressuring MEPs to ride roughshod over our hard-fought-for social and environmental standards on the premise that such standards are a barrier to business. We will see in next week’s vote whether MEPs – and the socialists in particular – vote according to the values they profess to hold or whether they cave in to the business lobby.”
Greens say nine out of ten lobby contacts during the preparatory phase of the TTIP negotiations were with companies and corporate lobby groups , and accuse the business lobby of co-writing the TTIP agenda. A recent European Commission consultation on the ISDS clause revealed a 97% rejection rate by respondents.
Twisting with facts
BUSINESSEUROPE is not alone in twisting the facts when it comes to TTIP. The European Commission has itself bended the truth to suit them on ISDS. In March this year, the Commission published a paper titled 'Investor-State Dispute Settlement: some facts and figures'. On page 4 of their paper they state that 48% of the ISDS cases are 'brought by medium and large enterprises', maintaining that only 8% of these were extremely large multinationals.
However, the Commission cites a study published by the OECD, which reads somewhat differently: Medium and large multinational enterprises account for about half of the total sample (which corresponds with the 48%, although the EC leaves out the word 'multinationals') while 'Extremely large multinationals –account for 8% of the total claimants.'
Under this reading Medium, large and extremely large multinational enterprises account for 56% of total ISDS complaints.
Is it really a coincidence that the EC mentions 'medium and large enterprises', and leaves out the word 'multinational enterprises'? Of course it is not: the EC knows very well after receiving tons of complaints by EU citizens on ISDS that they do not want extra-legal possibilities for multinationals to sue their governments when they make laws that protect the general good.