“EU US Trade Deal under threat as Legal advice confirms Investment Court will require Irish referendum” – Matt Carthy MEP
The ongoing EU-US trade deal (TTIP) negotiations are under threat as Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that legal opinion obtained by him has clearly established that an Irish referendum will be required if the European Commission proceed with proposals to constitute an Investment Court as part of an agreement. There will be knock-on implications for the CETA trade agreement with Canada.
The Investment Court is a central proposal in the commission’s bid to minimise the unprecedented opposition to TTIP. However, the prospect of a referendum on the issue in any state will cause huge concern among proponents of the deal who have gone to great lengths to ensure that much of the detail of negotiations have been kept secret.
Mr Carthy said:
“TTIP negotiations have garnered a level of opposition greater than anyone could have imagined, with millions of people across Europe engaging in campaigns against a deal that they believe would have negative implications for human rights as well as environmental and other standards. There is huge concern also for vulnerable sectors such as Irish agriculture.
“The greatest cause of concern across the EU regarding TTIP though has been the inclusion of an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. Basically this means that there would be provision for corporations (and corporations alone) to sue sovereign governments for implementing measures that impact on profit making potential regardless on the overall benefit to the common good.
“In an effort to minimise the massive levels of opposition the European Commission have tried to repackage ISDS by proposing the creation of a new European Investment Court.
“The creation of this new court would open taxpayers in Ireland and other EU states up to liabilities not previously imagined. It would not engage with national courts, it would limit the ability of the Irish Government to legislate freely when it comes to public services and consequently it would have enormous implications for the Irish Constitution.
“Following my initial concerns I commissioned formal legal opinion from a preeminent senior counsel. His response could not have been more emphatic.
“In his response to me he states that such a new Investor Court would:
‘possibly infringe Article 15.2.1 which vests the sole power to make law in the Oireachtas’.
‘Certainly infringe Article 34.1 which vests the power to dispense justice in the Irish domestic Courts.
‘Certainly infringe Article 34.3.2 which makes the High Court and Appellate Courts above it the sole Court in which a law may be questioned’.
“There is now absolutely no doubt in my mind that should the Commission proceed with its proposal a referendum in Ireland will be required. As well as the impact this will have on TTIP it could also have implications for the CETA EU Canada trade deal which was reportedly also to incorporate the Investment Court proposal.
“For TTIP proponents this is a nightmare scenario as they have gone to great lengths to limit debate and, indeed, deny public access to most documentation relating to the deal.
“However, such a scenario could only be a good thing for the democratic process and for citizen engagement. With the prospects of a referendum proponents of TTIP will no longer be able to hide from this debate or continue to deny the very real threats that TTIP presents to the rights of workers and communities or to the future of the Irish economy.
“Sinn Féin, and millions of citizens across the EU, would welcome such a scenario. We await with interest the commission’s response to this development”.