MEP opposes trade talks oversight

Plans to have all EU and US legislation scrutinised by an unelected body as part of the EU-US trade agreement have been criticised by Irish MEP Paul Murphy and members of the EU’s own advisory group.

A letter signed by Trade Minister Richard Bruton and ministers from eight other EU countries published in the Financial Times earlier this week urged that the negotiations on the trade agreement, known as TTIP, should be as comprehensive as possible.

The talks, launched under the Irish EU presidency last June, are aimed at eliminating all trade barriers between the world’s two biggest trading blocks and resumed this week with a stocktaking meeting between the EU’s Karel De Gucht and the US Michael Froman who lead the negotiations.

The scope of the talks have been criticised by civil liberty, environmental, food and workers rights groups with exactly what is on the table unclear.

One of the most controversial aspects is an investor-state dispute settlement clause and a separate body that would scrutinise all draft legislation to ensure they did not hinder business and companies doing business in either jurisdiction.

Both of these have been criticised by two members of an expert group selected last month to advise the EU on the agreement.

They would allow businesses to sue governments for changes to law that they considered to be unfair treatment. The cases would be heard by a panel of lawyers outside the country’s court and legal systems.

The letter signed by Mr Bruton said the deal “will strengthen our competitiveness, create jobs and spur growth”, adding that it would benefit all workers, exporters, investors and environmentalists.

Mr Murphy, the only Irish MEP on the parliament’s trade committee, said the claim of more jobs and growth was “a fairy tale”.


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