ECR group chair critical of TTIP 'myth-making'

Written by Kayleigh Rose Lewis on 8 July 2014 in News
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The ECR group's newly-elected leader has spoken to the Parliament Magazine about why the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) needs to stay on the top of the EU's agenda.

The discussion around TTIP has already started, with European parliament president Martin Schulz mentioning it in his speech to plenary in Strasbourg last week.

Syed Kamall, previously a member of parliament's international trade committee, hopes that the EU can achieve an "ambitious and balanced" TTIP.

The UK deputy told this website, "At a time of sluggish growth in much of the EU, it is vital that we as politicians support measures that will bring down barriers, reduce costs and increase opportunities for our consumers and businesses.

"It is vital that we as politicians support measures that will bring down barriers, reduce costs and increase opportunities for our consumers and businesses"

"I believe that open trade is one of the best ways to achieve this. We should never forget that businesses trade with each other and sell to consumers across borders for mutual interest.

"Governments can sometimes facilitate trade by agreeing to recognise each other's standards or harmonising them then getting out of the way," he explained.

However, he continued, "Sadly all too often governments get in the way by maintaining tariff or non-tariff barriers to trade.

"That is why the ECR group supports the proposed TTIP, which could boost growth and more importantly, support jobs in these difficult times."

Turning his attention to the negotiation's detractors, Kamall said, "There has been much alarmist talk about TTIP since discussions began, much of it myth-making by left-wing and green lobbies, who are hostile to open trade in any form.

"There has been much alarmist talk about TTIP since discussions began, much of it myth-making by left-wing and green lobbies, who are hostile to open trade in any form"

He continued, "The most controversial issues, such as the clauses on investor state dispute settlements, have been introduced in dozens of existing free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries, without any major problems.

"And the notion that state-provided public services will be privatised as a consequence of TTIP are simply unfounded since there is an existing carve out in WTO agreements and EU FTAs."

"Similarly it is simply not true that the EU will accept any watering down of public health or safety standards that are currently in place," he clarified.

"Instead of myth making, we should be viewing TTIP as an opportunity to put in place the highest standards at a global level, setting an example that other countries can then choose to follow if they wish," insisted Kamall.

"Although there have also been criticisms about the democratic oversight of the negotiations, there has been much exaggeration about the lack of transparency.

"The council and the European parliament are regularly consulted by the negotiators at the commission, as is standard practice for all FTA negotiations," he said.

"And ultimately If the parliament does not like the final agreement, for whatever reason, we have the ability to reject the proposal, as will national parliaments in the case of a mixed agreement.

"The European parliament used this power last year to reject the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement and would not hesitate to do so again," remarked the London MEP.

"We must put to one side the usual politicking and scaremongering that often comes with discussions about open trade," he urged.

"We must put to one side the usual politicking and scaremongering that often comes with discussions about open trade"

"Unlike other FTA negotiations, TTIP could be concluded relatively quickly since the US and the EU already have similar regulatory regimes and low customs duties.

"The European conservatives and reformists will continue to support the TTIP negotiations currently taking place with a view to achieving an ambitious and balanced final agreement," concluded Kamall.

About the author

Kayleigh Rose Lewis is a journalist at the Parliament Magazine

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