I was surprised by Cllr Milestone’s comments last week (“New trade agreement could damage NHS and public services” – Bristol councillor – 6 November) in which she echoed the misinformation put out by the anti-TTIP lobby’s impressively ruthless PR machine in contrast to current Labour Party policy.
Of course everyone is entitled to their view, and the current leadership will no doubt welcome a debate on this issue, but it must be said that Labour’s current position is to support TTIP subject to conditions.
It was a commitment in our 2014 and 2015 manifestos that we support the principles behind the negotiations and will hold the European Commission to account on issues of concern. These include the impact on public services and the Investor to State Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
Just last week we had some success in this, with the European Commission putting forward proposals to reform ISDS. This was a clear response to the pressure and scrutiny put on the agreement by Labour MEPs, including our own Clare Moody MEP, who explains the process with great clarity on her blog.
With TTIP, the EU is trying something new that goes beyond the classic lowering of tariffs.
The main priority is to dilute, if not eliminate, divergent or conflicting American and European regulations and standards for goods and services. This could result in stronger economic growth and job creation for both parties.
Unfortunately, certain political organisations and a handful of NGOs are digging up old hatchets about American chlorinated chicken and hormone-enhanced beef. This is despite the Commission’s endless assurances that EU standards legislation will not be changed.
Part of the difficulty for negotiators is that their efforts to cut red tape are being interpreted as willingness to expose consumers to more risk.
Despite what anti-trade campaigners say, small and medium-sized enterprises should be the main beneficiaries from the agreement. This is why it will be the first to feature a special ‘chapter’ dedicated to helping SMEs.
In such areas, the focus is not on the regulatory process but on ways to make the bureaucratic process faster – and, therefore, cheaper.
TTIP is nothing particularly new and, like any other trade agreement in development, nothing has been agreed until everything has been agreed.