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Oireachtas TTIP contribution not reflective of broad policy and stakeholder concerns

25 November, 2015 - by Seán Crowe TD, Michael Colreavy TD

Speaking after this morning’s private meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs, Sinn Fein members said it was obscene that a report on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is being forced through the Oireachtas that is incomplete and not reflective of all stakeholders’ views. 

Deputies Seán Crowe, Peadar Tóibín, Michael Colreavy, and Senator Kathryn Reilly raised the issue after TDs and Senators from Fine Gael, Labour, and Fianna Fail voted down a Sinn Fein motion in the EU Affairs Committee which called for a withdrawal of the incomplete and embarrassing (TTIP) report until a comprehensive political contribution of all relevant Oireachtas Committees is drafted. This follows on from the defeat of a similar motion in Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Committee.

Senator Reilly said: 

“It is astounding that an incomplete report, standing at just ten pages of detail, on one of the biggest trade agreements in the world is being forced through the Oireachtas committees to be submitted to the European institutions. The report verges on the embarrassing when compared to the reports other Parliaments have completed, they are significantly more robust and in depth than ours. This report is not an Oireachtas report- there are glaring holes in terms of the content and serious policy gaps emerge.

“I think it is extremely important that there is a cross committee focus and report on TTIP. Unfortunately it is not the case with this report. This is only a report from three Committees and it seems like the EU Affairs Committee is the only one that has significantly examined TTIP.

“There has been some good work done and constructive meetings held in certain Oireachtas committees on TTIP, I do not deny that. However, this report is incomplete, that is why Sinn Fein submitted a motion to stop the report being sent to the European Parliament until all the relevant committees which TTIP affects have held a series of meetings and engagements on the trade agreement.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín outlined: 

“The Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Committee report is only an analysis of what the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation said when he met us, he may as well have just written a personal letter to European Commission. That is not to undermine the work that has gone into it; it is just that process is totally incomplete.

“Furthermore, the Justice Committee needs to be examining the implications of ISDS, the Foreign Affairs Committee needs to be discuss the effects TTIP may have on developing countries and other trade agreements, and the Public Expenditure Committee need to investigate the impact it can have on public procurement. The Committee on Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources need to examine it.  

“The current report is based solely on evidence given to only three committees, which exposes the Committee to censure from stakeholders and citizens who are already deeply concerned regarding the secretive nature of the TTIP negotiations and believe that concerns raised are not being dealt with.

Deputy Seán Crowe stated of the report:

“Sinn Féin are not calling for a suppression of the report or the process, far from it. What we want to see is democratic debate by all the relevant Oireachtas committees and the drafting of a comprehensive and agreed to report that adequately reflects the detailed examination members have undertaken in their consideration of the TTIP agreement. This is especially important because TTIP is unprecedented in its scale and depth and an Oireachtas report should outline the positive and negative aspects of TTIP as raised by Oireachtas members of all parties and none.

“The Communications committee actually sent a request to the EU Affairs committee not to forward the report until they had an opportunity to consider the implications of TTIP on the sectors within that committees remit. That request was not acceded to in what can be considered a blatant disregard for democracy and parliamentary oversight.

Deputy Michael Colreavy, a member of that committee noted:

“TTIP has major implications for areas that are of concern to the Transport and Communications Committee; not least in relation to hydraulic fracturing which is a topic that has been dealt with at committee level on many occasions. 

“It is essential that the Transport and Communications Committee get an opportunity to engage with any report that examines TTIP. How could we, as elected representatives, have confidence in a report that does not cover even some of the most basic concerns regarding this agreement? 

“The Transport and Communications Committee must be given the opportunity to hear from stakeholders, officials, and the Minister on the potential implications of TTIP.” 

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