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Government must drop ISDS from TTIP - Tóibín

4 November, 2014

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín today raised his opposition to the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently under negotiation between the EU and US.

The Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Spokesperson raised his concerns during today’s Committee session of the Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014.

“Just last month the US Chamber of Commerce lodged an objection with the European Commission regarding the Government’s plans to introduce plain packaging on tobacco products citing Intellectual Property rights.

“In response the Commission warned the impact on Ireland’s economy could be significant if it proceeds with plain packaging for cigarettes as it may be viewed as failing to safeguard intellectual property rights.

“It will be shocking to many citizens to learn that the US Chamber of Commerce and the EU Commission have both sought to strong arm the Irish government in a critical area of public policy to the benefit ultimately of multinational cigarette manufacturers.

“This shot across the bow by the EU Commission and the US Chamber of Commerce is in the context of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations currently taking place between the EU and US.

“Australia, the first country to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, has been the target of a number multinational tobacco companies, all of whom are claiming infringement on intellectual property rights covering brands.

“These companies are using the particularly odious Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism attached to Free Trade Agreements to challenge Australia’s decision on plain packaging. This will be of particular concern to Ireland, and indeed all EU countries, as the Commission negotiates Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) behind closed doors.

“In response to growing opposition across Europe to TTIP the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation wrote to the Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom this month advocating for the inclusion of ISDS in the trade agreement. In effect Richard Bruton is putting the wants of multinationals ahead of fundamental fights of Irish citizens’ and those they elect to represent them.

“During today’s committee stage of the Intellectual Property Bill I submitted an amendment to the legislation which if supported by Government would have added an additional layer of protection against multinationals using the Intellectual Property rights argument in the case of plain packaging.

“Of course the surest way the Irish Government can protect against companies like Philip Morris taking ISDS cases against the state is to demand that ISDS be dropped from TTIP and all free trade agreements signed up to by the EU and its member states.” 

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