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28/08/2016

Athens says TTIP should be ratified by national parliaments

Trade & Society

Athens says TTIP should be ratified by national parliaments

Giorgos Stathakis (griechisch Γιώργος Σταθάκης, * 8. November 1953 in Chania) ist ein griechischer Ökonom und Politiker der Regierungspartei SYRIZA.

[Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/Flickr]

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should be a “mixed” agreement and, therefore, be ratified by national institutions, according to Greece’s economy minister. EurActiv Greece reports.

Speaking at a conference on Wednesday (13 January) co-organized by VouliWatch and The Press Project, Greek Minister of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism, Giorgos Stathakis, explained his government’s position on TTIP. 

Before being in government in January 2015, the leftist Syriza party had been suspicious of TTIP.

>>Read: Syriza-led Greek parliament ‘will never ratify TTIP’

Georgios Katrougkalos, the then-deputy minister for administrative reform, had told EurActiv Greece that “Athens will use its veto to kill the proposed trade pact.”

But in August 2015, the Syriza party was split, as far-left rebels who opposed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s bailout deal with Europe decided to form a new movement.

Since then, the Syriza-led government has adopted a more moderate tone on the TTIP agreement.

The framework has changed

Stathakis noted that at the beginning, the trade agreement “was unimaginable, not transparent and inaccessible”.

He added that there was also the “shock” idea, according to which the deal should be sealed in record time “before any discussion took place”.

But the framework of TTIP negotiations has changed.  He said that now, the negotiations are more accessible.

“The right of states to legislate and to change the law for the protection of public health, safety or the environment, and consumer protection, is ensured,” Stathakis underlined.

The Greek minister also stressed that the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), which has triggered strong reactions across Europe, was replaced by a normal court of international authority, with “permanent features and function codes”.

>>Read: European Parliament backs TTIP, rejects ISDS

The “hot potato”

Stathakis said, though, that the pending issue was whether this agreement is the exclusive right of the European institutions to co-decide, or it should be a mixed agreement, which requires ratification by national institutions, meaning a national parliament vote, or referendum.

“It is a demand of several countries that, according to the Lisbon Treaty [Article 207], it should be considered a mixed agreement,” the Greek official stressed.

In a recent interview with Tagesspiegel, media partner of EurActiv in Germany, the EU’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that a mixed agreement would most possibly be the case.

>>Read: Malmström: We can finish TTIP during the Obama administration

“It will probably be a mixed agreement, especially if it is as comprehensive and ambitious as we want it to be. Then 42 parliaments, 6 in Belgium alone, would have to vote on TTIP. But the European Commission cannot release its legal assessment until the agreement is finished,” she underlined. 

Background

Negotiations between the United States and the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership began in July 2013. The guidelines stated that the EU should seek to include provisions on investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the proposed agreement.

>> Read: Special report: TTIP and the Arbitration Clause

If the treaty is signed, it will affect almost 40% of world GDP. The transatlantic market is already the most important in the world.

The deal could save companies millions of euros and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The average European household could save €545 per year, and European GDP could increase by nearly 0.5%.

Further Reading

EU institutions

  • Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union: Article 207

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