By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.
Today was supposed to be a historic day — the day when hundreds of MEPs, representing hundreds of millions of European citizens, were to finally get their say on the hugely contentious EU-US trade bill commonly known as TTIP. Granted, the result would not have been binding, but a no-vote would have represented a resounding slap in the face of the European Commission.
Things began fairly auspiciously when, early on Tuesday, The Guardian reported that dissension was growing in the ranks as MEPs threatened to block the trade deal unless it guaranteed states’ rights to regulate over climate, health, and social laws. Now news is emerging that the President of the Parliament, Martin Schulz, has decided to postpone the vote altogether amidst fears that a majority of MEPs might reject the bill.
Here’s more from the Spanish news site El Diario.
The differences between the European People’s Party (EPP) and the social democratic bloc on the issue of arbitration and especially the internal division among the socialists have led to the withdrawal of the report, although the official justification given by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz has been the huge number of amendments (over 200) proposed by the Committee on International Trade (INTA).
“In view of the more than 200 amendments and requests for separate vote, President Schulz has decided, using the Rule 175 and after consulting the chairman of the Committee on International Trade (INTA), to postpone the vote”. In fact, more than half of the amendments came from committee members fiercely opposed to the treaty (the European United Left and the Greens) and Schulz’s last-minute decision was to head off the “danger” that the TTIP would be defeated on Wednesday, according to parliamentary sources…
For the moment there is little more information available. The EU’s primary news outlet, Euractiv, currently has no mention of the suspended vote while the EU Observor has just this to say:
A key vote set for Wednesday in Strasbourg on the US-EU trade deal, known as TTIP, has been suspended. A European parliament source said the president Martin Schulz decided to postpone the vote so the committees can consider the some 200 amendments that have been tabled.
Clearly the EU’s most talented spin doctors will be working around the clock tonight to try to come up with an ingenious way of painting the EP president’s sudden change of heart in a half-reasonable light. After all, this is not the first time that Schulz has applied the brakes to the parliament’s TTIP deliberations.
As I previously reported, in late 2013, at the height of Edward Snowden’s disclosures of rampant US spying on its so-called European “partners,” Schulz suggested that it may be necessary to temporarily suspend negotiations — not out of concern for the dangers of forming a hermetically sealed alliance with a country whose recent actions are an affront to the very notion of mutual trust and cooperation, but rather out of fear that continued negotiations in the current climate could feed anti-TTIP sentiment:
If such events continue, and more news comes out, I fear that those who are against the free trade agreement in principle will become the majority. My advice is to stop for a moment and discuss how we can avoid such a development.
This is how democracy works in today’s post-democractic Europe. If an important vote seems unlikely to go the right way (i.e. the corporatocracy’s way), just suspend it until conditions improve (i.e. when nobody’s paying attention). If a pesky nation (say, France or Holland) votes against a treaty that would transform the entire continent’s political and legal structures beyond all recognition (i.e. the Nice Treaty), just pretend it never happened.
Then, when nobody’s paying attention, change the treaty’s name — say, to the Treaty of Lisbon — bury all the most contentious sections of the former treaty in the new treaty’s totally illegible annex, and forbid any other country from holding a referendum on the new treaty’s adoption. Except for Ireland, of course, which is required by its constitution to hold a national referendum whenever a new treaty, or amendments to an existing treaty, are proposed by the Union. When the Irish people, like the French and the Dutch before them, delivered a resounding”NO” to the new treaty, the EU just order them to vote again ’til they get the right answer — which they eventually did, in the end.
In other words, one should take the latest developments with a generous pinch of salt. On the bright side, it’s another small battle won by and for the people of Europe (and by extension, the United States of America), as our conniving leaders are forced once again back to the drawing board. However, if there’s one thing of which we can all be sure, it’s that it won’t take long before our leaders come back with a new, even stealthier strategy to force this beastly monstrosity into existence. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.
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