The Independent's recent article on TTIP ("TTIP: Big Business and US to have major say in EU trade deals, leaks reveals", 18 March 2016) raises important concerns about TTIP which we, as the Labour MEPs responsible for trade policy, are keen to address.
If balanced well, our trade agreements – including the planned EU/US TTIP trade deal – have the potential to deliver new customers to UK businesses and new global rules to tackle unfair trade as well as protecting workers and consumers. But the negotiations could also go the wrong way, as many fear.
Therefore, working with MEPs from across the political spectrum in the European Parliament, which will ultimately accept or reject the final text, Labour MEPs have set a number of red lines for TTIP negotiators to protect our standards, rights and public services, exclude private investment tribunals and ensure democratic scrutiny.
For regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to cooperate is a good idea in principle. Many UK exporters complain of burdensome red tape and unnecessary hoops that they must jump through in order to sell their products and services in the US.
In fact such cooperation has already been going on for over fifteen years, and we see value in deepening these efforts to make trade easier, safer and cheaper. But any system included in TTIP must be fully transparent and subject to proper democratic scrutiny. And any convergence of standards must be upward, never downward.
One campaigner quoted in the article makes a link to the EU referendum campaign, calling TTIP a threat to our sovereignty. But this threat can only be eliminated if we keep our seat at the table. In or Out of the EU, TTIP will have a major influence on us. Any TTIP agreement will shape global trade rules for years to come, and rather than have to silently accept these rules without voice or veto, we can and must act to define them: to do this, we must remain at the EU negotiating table.
David Martin MEP, Socialist and Democrats Spokesperson for International Trade
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, Labour Spokesperson for TTIP