Friday, July 10, 2015

Disappointed with the Dems on Trade? The European Center-Left is Actually Even Worse.

Although the Democratic president and enough Democrats in both Houses of Congress (including the chairwoman of the Democratic Party) voted for fast-track authority to expedite passage of large corporation-written trade deals, the vast majority of Democrats still remained opposed.

The same cannot be said of the center-left in Europe.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted 436 to 241 for a resolution expressing support for the draft text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the TPP's Atlantic cousin.

The vote had been delayed from last week due to opposition to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision. Rather than taking it out, EP President Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat, replaced it with what critics have called "ISDS-lite."

Here's Polly Jones from Global Justice Now on Schultz's move:
Late last week, the vote on the resolution was rescheduled for today, along with a compromise amendment designed to take support away from anti-ISDS positions. This amendment addresses none of the fundamental issues with ISDS and adds additional costs to EU tax payers of running a new supranational ISDS court. If MEPs agree to table the amendment many of the critical amendments on ISDS, including to remove ISDS altogether, will automatically be taken off the agenda. Given the balance of powers in the European parliament, it is likely that the new amendment will be both tabled and passed. This may be an admirable piece of footwork by Shultz and [EP trade committee chair Bernd Lange, who drafted the resolution] but it is a travesty for democracy.
Three EP political groups--two left-wing and one right-wing--unanimously opposed the resolution: the Greens–European Free Alliance, the European United Left–Nordic Green Left, and Europe of Nations and Freedom. That last group consists of the parties of right-wingers like France's Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands's Geert Wilders. 

The UKIP-style right-wingers in Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy voted against it 38 to 2, and the Non-Inscrits (unattached) voted against it 12 to 2.

The resolution gained near unanimous support from the Christian Democrats of the European People's Party (200 to 2), the centrists of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (56 to 1), and the anti-federalist conservatives of the European Conservatives and Reformists (61 to 3).

The only group that was not close to unanimous in either way was the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the political group of Europe's social democratic/center-left parties. They voted in favor of it 116 to 56, basically 2:1. Who knew that corporate sovereignty was a new plank in the social democratic platform?

The country-by-country breakdown is also interesting.

In only four countries did the majority of MEPs vote against the resolution: Austria (11 to 6), France (48 to 21), Greece (12 to 6), and the UK (42 to 20).

In Austria, the Social Democrats, Greens, and Freedom Party right-wingers voted against it, and the Austrian People's Party Christian democrats and NEOS centrist liberals voted for it.

In France, the MEPs of the Socialists, Greens, Left Front, Communists, and National Front voted against it, and the MEPs of the center-right UMP voted for it. The MEPs from the centrist-liberal parties abstained.

In Greece, the MEPs from Syriza, KKE (Communists), and Golden Dawn voted against it, and the MEPs from the "social democratic" Pasok and center-right New Democracy voted for it. One Pasok MEP abstained.

In the UK, all but one of the Labour MEPs joined with the Greens and the UKIPpers against it. The one remaining Lib Dem, one defecting Labourite, and the Tories voted for it. 3 MEPs from various right-of-center groups abstained.

The social democrats from Austria, France, and the UK (Social Democrats, Socialists, Labourites) made up 60% of the NO votes from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

The social democrats in other countries were broadly supportive. Of particular note is that all but one of the social democratic MEPs from the Scandinavian counties voted for the TTIP resolution. Some aspects of Scandinavian economic policy are, apparently, not worth admiring.

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