David Martin, Senior Scottish MEP and Labour’s spokesperson on international trade has welcomed today’s vote in the European Parliament for environmental, health and employment legislation to be safeguarded from corporate legal challenges.
The legislation on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) calls on the European Commission to ensure the 'right to regulate' is respected when negotiating investment agreements between the EU and third countries.
ISDS gives foreign investors the ability to challenge EU or national legislation if they believe it violates their right to fair treatment under an EU investment agreement. Labour MEPs are against the inclusion of ISDS in a free trade agreement with the United States.
David Martin MEP, who steered the legislation through the European Parliament for the Socialists & Democrats Group, said:
"Labour MEPs have and will continue to argue against ISDS in the EU-US trade agreement. It is not necessary between two countries with developed legal systems, and it has a worrying precedent of challenging health legislation.
"We face an uphill battle against ISDS with the right-wing majority in the European Parliament and Council - including the UK government - in favour of the measure.
"However with this legislation we have secured more transparency and ensured the right to regulate is clearly included should ISDS be introduced."
Today's legislation does not introduce any ISDS measures but sets out a mechanism for dealing with it in the EU if it is introduced. It specifically addresses when the European Union would respond to a case and when it would be the responsibility of a national government.
Speaking after the vote Mr Martin added: "We remain opposed to ISDS with the United States. But we are pragmatic enough to engage for a framework for dealing with the mechanism if it is included. This is a good framework as we have included the 'right to regulate' and shone a light on the previously un-transparent process."