I don’t know if this amount of detail will be interesting but I will go ahead anyway. The next round of talks on the TTIP report is scheduled for 18:00 hours today in the Committee on Economic Affairs. It is important to note that we are not negotiating the TTIP itself but we are discussing recommendations and limits which the EP will give the negotiators. At the end of the day they have to get the agreement through and so we erect what you might call crash barriers, setting out what the Parliament wants to see included and what it wants to be omitted at all costs. So we are not negotiating with the Americans but rather the parties are negotiating their positions.

I am negotiating on behalf of the Greens on two committees. The report by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is mainly concerned with financial market issues. Energy and data exchange are the main subjects discussed in the report issued by the Committee on Industry. Reports are issued by 13 committees in total, which is a first in the EP.

The strategy issue

Now I am known to be in favour of abandonment of the TTIP talks because I do not think the Council’s negotiating mandate can be recovered, but this is not what this report is about. My aim is to commit the Parliament to such high thresholds and standards that only a good trade agreement will secure a majority here. I am not fundamentally against trade with the USA. The fact that I do not think that these high thresholds can then be met by the TTIP negotiating team with its mandate is a different issue. (Some left-wing and also right-wing MPs are pursuing a different strategy: they do not want to contribute to the report at all and will vote against it on all accounts. I do not think this is a good strategy because this is a refusal to help with efforts to raise the demands. To put it another way, if I could make the decision on my own then I would act differently. But I cannot. So I have to force up the demands with a view to influencing the majority.)

How do the negotiations run, taking the Committee on Economic Affairs as an example? Rapporteur Jeppe Kofod has written a rough draft, in response to which the shadow rapporteurs of the other parliamentary groups have proposed amendments. Today we are first negotiating possible compromises (we are not so far in the process as to have German translations of all the positions so I am quoting the English here).

So, for example, Kofod prefaces his proposal with the following introduction:

a. take immediate action to ensure that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement is reached on the TTIP enhancing fair competition on both sides of the Atlantic;

Feeling that this is insufficiently critical, I put forward the following proposal:

take immediate action to ensure that on both sides of the Atlantic economic and financial stability is at the core of government regulation and supervision and that the financial sector is at the service of the real economy and transition to a more socially and environmentally sustainable society;

Today Kofod now brings a suggestion for a compromise to the table in which he has incorporated this and five further amendments (the amendments missing from the number sequence are proposals which he does not want to incorporate. One of them, for example, is calling for an immediate halt to the negotiations):

AM 2 (Reimon), 3 (Tang), 5 (Molnar), 6 (Ferber), 7 (Loones), 10 (Karins)

to commit itself to ensure that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement is reached on the TTIP enhancing fair competition on both sides of the Atlantic, while taking into account the values of the European social market economy, ensuring benefits to consumers, industry and investors, enhancing quality job creation and growth, and ensuring that regulatory cooperation, in particular in the field of capital and financial services, does not undermine democratic control on both sides of the Atlantic in any way and seeks a transition to a more socially and environmentally sustainable society;

That is certainly worded better but I am not happy with it because it has omitted the phrase “financial stability” from my proposal. And a far-reaching agreement which takes high standards “into account” is, in my view, one which is putting the cart before the horse.

The process is better in the following instance:

Kofod:

take immediate action to ensure that aggressive tax planning, and distortion of competition by e.g. moving of headquarters across the Atlantic to obtain competition-distorting conditions, are addressed;

Reimon:

take immediate action to ensure that aggressive tax planning, and distortion of competition by e.g. moving of headquarters across the Atlantic to obtain competition-distorting conditions, are addressed, and ensure that ‘off-shore’ funds whose managers operate on both sides of the Atlantic are being required to establish their headquarters ‘on shore’; take immediate action for ensuring an automatic exchange of information and country-by-country reporting regarding tax matters in all sectors;

Suggestion for compromise put forward by Kofod today:

AM 53 (Kofod), 54 (Reimon), 55 (Hübner)

come forward with an anti-BEPS Directive (base erosion and profit shifting) to end harmful competition by businesses, in particular multinationals, who organise their global tax position, often across the Atlantic, in a way that allows profit shifting towards lower tax jurisdictions; ensure that ‘off-shore’ funds whose managers operate on both sides of the Atlantic are being required to established their headquarters ‘on shore’; take immediate action for ensuring an automatic exchange of information and country-by-country reporting regarding tax matters in all sectors;

That is a good example of what I have in mind: if we get a majority in favour of this and the Parliament tells the negotiators that a regulation of offshore funds must be included in the TTIP then we will be creating a counterbalance to those financial market lobbies which have direct access to the other ear of the negotiating team.

That was just a brief and rough outline but I hope it was interesting. The meeting is starting, so I’ll add more some other time…

Posted by Michel Reimon