David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

Obama's visit to Europe is a blessing for Bremain but we should be wary about a TTIP-light

On Thursday President Obama will visit the UK and Germany in what will probably be his last visit to European soil as the most powerful politician on the planet.

His first stop will be London, where David Cameron must be hoping that a sprinkle of the Obama magic dust will be able to revive his own personal brand, which has taken quite a battering recently.

More importantly for the rest of us, he is likely to use the occasion to make a timely intervention in the EU referendum debate. Although the words used will most probably be highly diplomatic - focusing on our own democratic right to choose our country's destiny - the message will be simple and clear: you'd be absolutely barmy to leave the EU and don't expect any special favours from us if you do decide to.

As hapless Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt served to emphasise in her recent interview with the Daily Politics, none of our allies think that we are more secure outside the EU than within it. As well as President Obama, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg plus a host of Commonwealth leaders have all come out saying that their preferred option would be a strong UK at the centre of the EU. On the other side, there is Vladimir Putin plus a string of would-be nationalist leaders of other EU member states. Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders et al will be praying for an 'out' vote on June 23.

I think I know which side I would choose.

President Obama's visit will highlight the severe risks that Brexit would entail, both to the UK and the current world order. However, I hope that he will also set out the positive vision of a 21st century "Special Relationship" with Britain as a member of the world's most economically successful and politically united international organisation.

The Obama brand perhaps isn't as strong as it was in 2008, but amongst Europeans it has certainly rebounded now that the Republican primary race has exposed what he was up against these last eight years. Compared to European leaders, he still has something of a star quality. In fact, you tell how influential he still is by the way that the Leave campaign has been pre-emptively rattled by his forthcoming appearance on British soil.

No to TTIP-light

After his sojourn to Number 10, the 44th President of the US will move on to Berlin, followed by the influential Hannover Trade Fair, where he is expected to make a speech on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

In order for us to reach our stated goal of concluding TTIP negotiations by the end of 2016, it is crucial that we see some movement on the American side on core issues like an enforceable sustainable development chapter, public procurement, and geographical indications. I am concerned by what appears to be a lack of ambition on the US side.

Which brings us back to President Obama. Like any leader in their final term the mind naturally turns to one's legacy. A trade pact with the European Union would certainly fit the bill. The temptation, therefore, could be to bypass the difficult parts of the negotiations in order to get the deal done before he leaves office.

To be absolutely clear, a TTIP-light would not be acceptable for the Socialist and Democrats group in the European Parliament and it would be voted down. Only an ambitious TTIP can deliver the predicted economic benefits, and only an ambitious TTIP can be convincingly said to set the global trade rules for the future. Workers' rights and environmental concerns are integral parts of the deal and must not be left by the wayside in a quest for expediency.

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