The European Parliament will vote today on an interim resolution regarding the negotiations on the Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU with recommendations on further proceedings. The project document does not exclude the ISDS mechanism, which threatens democracies’ functioning, as it allows for circumvention of the judicial systems of countries that have signed the agreement and legal action by investors, claiming “lost profits” damages, against countries through international commercial arbitration. The document was to be adopted by the EP in June, but President Martin Schulz decided not to risk rejection and did not put it up for voting. The reason was the lack of unity throughout the second largest group in EP – of the socialists and democrats (S&D).  No clear endorsement by the latter would render the adoption of the resolution, and of the treaty as a whole, highly problematic. MEPs have been subjected to intense lobbying in favour of adopting the resolution ever since.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chair of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Yanaki Stoilov, has commented, “Due to the effort by the group of the socialists and democrats some results have been achieved, but they are still not as resounding as to guarantee the protection of European countries’ interests. That includes the technology of setting up arbitration on claims against nations.” He added, “We believe there are no sufficient grounds to support a position in negotiations, which does not provide enough guarantees and conditions for the protection of European citizens’ interests.” Stoilov announced that BSP supports the petition of the European Citizens’ Initiative STOP TTIP.

The ECI insists that negotiations on TTIP are halted, as the treaty includes critical proposals such as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and provisions for regulatory cooperation, which undermine democracy and the rule of law. The initiative argues that such non-transparent treaties bring a risk of lowering of labour, social, environmental, data protection and privacy, and consumer rights standards and also a threat of deregulation of public services (e.g. water supply) and cultural heritage monuments. BSP has four MEPs in the S&D group – Sergei Stanishev, Georgi Pirirnski, Iliana Iotova and Momchil Nekov.

Citizens’ organizations, non-parliamentary parties and trade unions – part of STOP TTIP, also demand from all Bulgarian MEPs to vote against the resolution. An international trade and investment agreement between the US and the EU could be very beneficial, but only if it addresses the real problems of the global economy and does not concern itself with arbitration functions instead. If these two economic zones apply a common standard, major problems could be resolved, such as labour, social and environmental dumping that leads to unfair competition and drives nations into a “race to the bottom”.