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One of the big issues dominating the agenda in Brussels at the moment is that of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, commonly referred to as TTIP. Not only is this a hot topic in Europe, but both Westminster and Holyrood have also been conducting their own inquiries into this potential trade deal.
The European Commission and American negotiating teams really haven’t done themselves any favours insofar as this has largely been negotiated in secret thus far. As a result of the complete lack of real information and transparency, many people – quite rightly – have grave concerns about what TTIP means and the motives behind this deal.
The SNP continues to keep a very critical eye on the TTIP negotiations, although there is still a very long way to go before any .nal deal can be signed off. And make no mistake about the fact that we, as MEPs, won’t sign off something that is fundamentally damaging. The Parliament rejected ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) in 2012 and we will do so again if this trade agreement doesn’t meet a number of key tests.
As SNP MEPs we have set a number of key tests that must be met before we can even begin to consider supporting TTIP.
Firstly, the inclusion of public services in the agreement would have a major impact on the National Health Service following the large-scale privatisation ushered in by the Health and Social Act in England. TTIP must not alter the ability of democratically elected national governments and parliaments to organise public services ("public services" must be de.ned in as broad a way as possible according to national interpretations) in the way that best .ts their needs. This includes the ability of governments to bring public services back into the public domain if deemed necessary.
Secondly, the harmonisation of regulatory standards could put at risk existing European regulations in the .elds of public health, social and employment rights, health and safety and the environment. TTIP must not undermine European standards in these and other .elds, re.ecting our different societal choices. "Equivalence" must not be used as an excuse to allow imports not meeting our standards.
Europe and national and regional governments must be able to retain its own procedures for creating regulations, including the retention of the precautionary principle and impact assessments which go beyond a mere cost-bene.t analysis.
The controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism could be used to extract huge sums from the Scottish public purse by corporations in response to democratically-agreed public policy choices on dubious grounds of "expropriation" of "legitimately expected pro.t". Such a mechanism could lead to "regulatory chill" and restrict the ability of public authorities to legislate in the public interest. Unrestricted ISDS must be removed from TTIP.
TTIP must not prevent the development of "buy local" marketing, such as in the food sector. The ability of governments to set progressive procurement criteria designed to promote desirable outcomes such as local economic development or the green economy must not be inhibited.
So, all in all we will keep a critical eye on TTIP but the Commission reallyneeds to up its game if it wants our support for a much reformed TTIP.