The European Parliament will today take a first step towards adopting its priorities and concerns on the current state of play of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with Labour MEPs leading efforts to ensure the public's concerns are properly addressed, notably the proposal for arbitration courts known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
The European Parliament committee on international trade (INTA) is holding its first discussion on a draft response to the on-going TTIP negotiations between the European Union and the US, with a view to adopting a detailed Resolution in May this year.
Although the European Parliament is not formally involved in negotiations, the European Commission is legally obliged to keep Parliament updated, and Parliament has the power to reject the trade deal once it has been finalised.
Speaking from the European Parliament, Clare said: "Labour MEPs are hard at work in Brussels to ensure that if any TTIP agreement is reached it is one that works for British people and UK interests. We must ensure our public services, particularly the NHS, are protected whilst making sure our small and medium-sized businesses, like many in the South West, can make the best of new trading opportunities. We must also be vigilant to ensure big businesses do not exist in a separate legal environment from everybody else."
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on TTIP, said: "We have been making the case to the government, the Commission and US negotiators that having ISDS in TTIP is not a good idea. We must now turn to MEPs from across the political spectrum to try to build a majority in support of our call to remove it from TTIP.
"We have the power to veto any TTIP if it does not meet the requirements we believe are essential to creating a fair deal for Europe. However, this power is a blunt instrument and must be handled with care. Rather than dismiss legitimate concerns, the UK government should be defending them. Labour MEPs have been consistent in raising the need for a full exclusion for our public services and protection for our standards and rights. We are working to build a strong consensus to ensure that this is defended in the European Parliament's position in May."
David Martin MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group spokesperson on TTIP, added: "A good TTIP has the potential to create much-needed jobs in Europe and improve growth rates, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises which often find it difficult to trade across the Atlantic.
"By removing ISDS, fully protecting public services and maintaining the EU's high regulatory standards, we could build a strong consensus for a positive TTIP."