Another Europe is possible

Vote on TiSA: GUE/NGL will continue to defend people’s right against damaging trade deals

03/02/2016

The European Parliament today adopted a resolution with its recommendations to the Commission on the negotiation of the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement). Three important amendments proposed by GUE/NGL were carried, concerning the protection of labour rights, the safeguarding of universal service standards, and a 'review clause' which would enable all parties to suspend or reverse commitments under the agreement in cases of social dumping.

Vote on TiSA: GUE/NGL will continue to defend people’s right against damaging trade deals

The Parliament also adopted an amendment to exclude any 'ratchet' or 'standstill' clause which would, respectively, prevent countries from increasing the level of regulation in particular service sectors already liberalized at the moment of the signature, and prevent them from reregulating service sectors once they are liberalised. This request of the Parliament is contrary to the mandate on TiSA granted by the Council to the Commission that includes the obligation for Commission to impose both standstill and ratchet clauses in the negotiations. 

GUE/NGL Shadow Rapporteur on the report, Stelios Kouloglou, put the resolution in context by comparing it to the TiSA to the existing General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which has been negotiated by a much larger group of countries under the World Trade Organisation: "If GATS needs to be modernised, let's evaluate it and reform it with all parties. But TiSA instead is a new plurilateral agreement negotiated by a club of rich countries, which remains in favour of multinational companies, at the expense of quality jobs, the environment and data protection."

Spanish MEP, Lola Sanchez Caldentey, also criticised the lack of concern for, and exclusion of, most developing countries: "Reding's report recognises the importance of trade in services for developing countries, yet it does not propose to change the fact that TiSA is a macro-treaty on services in which most developing countries are excluded from the negotiation."

"The lack of transparency also remains a problem. The negotiations have moved forward in secret without consulting citizens or allowing them to see the text of the agreement. The fact that I, as a Member of the European Parliament, can read some of the texts (if I promise to keep all the information I've read secret), is not enough. I am a citizen above being a Member of the European Parliament, and I want to have the right to read the texts as a citizen, not only as a politician."

GUE/NGL Trade Policy Coordinator, Helmut Scholz, commented: "In the plenary today we won the vote on our amendment to include a revision clause in the TiSA agreement, which could be used to undo the liberalisation of a service, or through which the EU could leave or suspend the TiSA agreement in case of negative experiences, in particular concerning social dumping."
 
"However, I doubt that this resolution will cause a change in the conduct of negotiations by the EU Commission in the TISA negotiations, especially since Trade Commissioner Malmström once again reiterated the Commission's adherence to the mandate of the Council in the debate today. This reinforces my apprehension that the legitimate concerns in the societies affected will have to give way once again to the profit interests of a few companies. The reasons why we reject TTIP and CETA are essentially the reasons why we reject TiSA: truly fair trade is not possible under such conditions."

German MEP, Thomas Händel, reacted to the results: "At first glance, the report adopted by the European Parliament appears not to be as bad as expected. Many of our demands were added successfully, including the requirement to respect ILO core labour standards and a review clause."

"However, an amendment that proposed to make this report binding for the European Commission's negotiators was not adopted. The Parliament's Committee on Employment had also recommended binding minimum standards and particularly their justiciability, but the report does not reflect any of this.

"We hope that those who voted in favour of this resolution and the Committee on Employment will insist that this request of Parliament is respected by the Commission negotiators."
 
Other amendments, which represent red lines for GUE/NGL, were not carried by the Parliament today. These include the proposal to completely withdraw from the negotiations, and a proposal to use 'positive lists' (which means that only those service sectors that are explicitly listed will be liberalised). Therefore GUE/NGL voted against the resolution.

Stelios Kouloglou concluded: "Our group voted against Reding's report. Together with social movements, consumers, European citizens and most developing countries, we are opposing - and will continue to oppose - the TiSA negotiations."
 

GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings  +32 483 03 55 75
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

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