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TTIP: will a Franco/German alliance save Britain from Cameron?

Posted by on November 18, 2014.

MerkelHollandeIf you had to select four European countries and sum up their national government policy in single sentences, you would not go far wrong with this:

  • Sweden: to support the US at all costs
  • France: to promote France and French best interests at all costs
  • Germany: to maintain German dominance of Europe
  • UK: to curry favour with the US by supporting big (usually American) business

I never thought I would say this, but thank god for France and Germany! They may yet save Europe from American trade (and political) domination resulting from the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Germany is known to be unhappy with the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS). This section of the treaty will allow companies to object if any national policy impinges on their ability to do business; ie, affects their profits. This will naturally require arbitration, and the natural arbiters are the national courts. The national courts, however, are likely to be biased in favour of their own national (or regional in the case of the European Court) laws; so the Americans are pressing for ISDS to be settled by a new court system.

Here’s how the EFF described it last month:

The construction of these investor-state courts hardly allow for impartial rulemaking. In existing ISDS courts, they are comprised of three private-sector attorneys who take turns being judge and/or corporate advocate. Corporate plaintiffs in ISDS cases can demand hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars in damages against countries. Even a threat of an ISDS case can be enough for nations to strike down whatever policy a corporation doesn’t like, because they simply cannot afford to lose and be forced to pay such exorbitant penalties.
EU-US Trade Negotiations Continue Shutting out the Public—When Will They Learn?

Got that? The adjudicators in these cases will be private lawyers (and don’t we just love them) of the sort that are paid millions of dollars to represent the very same big companies.

Luckily, Germany has already said, Nein. Discussing both the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA) and also TTIP, German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel told a parliamentary debate, “It is completely clear that we reject these investment protection agreements.”

Now France has similarly said, Non.

“France did not want the ISDS to be included in the negotiation mandate,” Matthias Fekl told the French Senate. “We have to preserve the right of the state to set and apply its own standards, to maintain the impartiality of the justice system and to allow the people of France, and the world, to assert their values,” he added.
French government will not sign TTIP agreement in 2015

Since the TTIP will need to be signed off unanimously by all European states, we have come to the rather odd situation where the British people may well be saved from the British government by a Franco/German alliance.


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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions, News, News_legal, News_politics | Tags: , , , ,