TTIP negotiations branded 'undemocratic and non-transparent'
European parliament's groups have spoken out about the 'backroom negotiations' on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).
As negotiations get underway in Brussels, ALDE's Marietje Schaake and GUE/NGL president Gabi Zimmer speak to the Parliament Magazine about what is at stake for Europe.
Dutch deputy Schaake, ALDE's TTIP spokesperson, said, "TTIP will be one of the most important trade dossiers in the coming mandate."
"The huge potential economic benefits, but also the need to preserve high EU standards, and the political nature of the negotiations mean that it is guaranteed to feature prominently in the parliamentary work," she argued.
However, she continued, "It is crucial that we address the concerns people voice, while maintaining momentum for the negotiations.
"It is crucial that we address the concerns people voice, while maintaining momentum for the negotiations" - Marietje Schaake
"The goal of ensuring jobs and economic growth without government investment is still much needed.
"To ensure the many different stakeholders can stay involved, the European parliament will continue to push for more transparency and public scrutiny of the negotiation process.
"The European commission must not only focus on the technical aspects, but also on the public dialogue about TTIP," she concluded.
German MEP Zimmer was considerably more critical of the negotiations, saying, "Ending the undemocratic back-room negotiations on TTIP is a major priority for our group."
She explained, "We know there are considerable downside risks related to social and ecological standards and worker's rights and very few actual economic gains from TTIP in terms of GDP, jobs, and real wages.
In addition, Zimmer complained, "The undemocratic and non-transparent negotiations on TTIP are leading us towards a trade regime that puts corporate interests before citizens.
"The undemocratic and non-transparent negotiations on TTIP are leading us towards a trade regime that puts corporate interests before citizens" - Gabi Zimmer
"We cannot allow corporations to sue governments in private tribunals without any legal control, neither can we afford to remove hard fought regulations that help to protect people and planet," she stressed.
"To boot, a recently leaked document showed that TTIP would weaken further opportunities to regulate the financial sector in the future, on both sides of the Atlantic."
Elsewhere, Greens/EFA co-presidents Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts said that the larger parliamentary groups are trying to "muzzle MEPs" as they blocked the group's proposal to adopt a resolution on the negotiations last week.
They said, "Candidates of all political colours were talking up their credentials on defending citizens' interests with regard to TTIP during the election.
"It is cynical that, at the first possible instance, the bigger political groups are now trying to stifle debate on these highly controversial negotiations, which have provoked major concerns among EU citizens and civil society," they stressed.
"The Greens will continue to push for the parliament to take a stronger and clearer role in preventing these opaque negotiations from going too far," the co-chairs promised, concluding, "The European parliament is the voice of the citizens and it needs to defend their legitimate concerns about the prospect of TTIP lowering EU standards."
Parliament's groups are set to discuss the ongoing negotiations following Monday's TTIP meeting during the Strasbourg plenary session .
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