German Judges Rule: EU-U.S. ‘Trade’ Deal (TTIP) Would Undermine National Courts.

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TTIP, good for bureaucrats and corporate lawyers, bad for you and me (Image source)

There’s no doubt the so called Free Trade deal between the European Union and the United States (now the only hope Obama has left for preventing his political legacy being one of failure and disaster) will be one of the big news stories that will run and run througout the remainder of 2016.

The treaty which is formally titled Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) , has been the subject on ongoing secret negotiations between the European Union (EU) and American Department of Trade, the details of which (i.e. draft documents indicating what measure the final document will contain, not even members of elected governments have been allowed to scrutinise.

This is very much in line with Obama’s dictatorial style of governing, who can forget his response to the US congress when they demanded a debate on his healtcare reforms so they might know what they  were voting into law. The President told the peoples’ representatives; You will have to vote for it if you want to know what is in it.

The European Union’s ruling bureaucracy working in much the same way; EU commission chief Jean Claude Juncker and President of the European Parliament have both publicly expressed contempt for democracy while other senior officials have admitted the European Parliament and elected governments of member states are irrelevant, the bureaucrats will do as they please if member states elected bodies disagree.

The bureaucrats and corporate lawyers promoting TTIP are not having things all their own way however, in what amounts to a major blow for the deal the German Magistrates Association (DRB) has judged that special courts allowing firms to sue countries “had no legal basis”.

A key clause in the deal, proposed by the Obama Administration and supported by the EU’s negotiators, is the creation of an Investment Protection Court System (ICS) designed to protect businesses. In the court, corporate investors and businesses will be able to challenge new laws and policies implemented by member states which the investors believe will negatively affect their investments, Deutsche Welle has reported.

Judges from the DRB were scathing in their criticism of the proposal, saying: “The DRB sees neither a legal basis nor a need for such a court.” In a statement issued last week it added the assumption that investors don’t have “effective judicial protection” has no “factual basis.”

The judges also envisage problems with the trade model, warning that the definition of an investor’s assets is so broad, it will effectively hand the court jurisdiction to rule on almost any policy matter on a government’s agenda.

Furthermore, they say the Investment Court System represents a threat to the sovereignty of Europe’s current legal systems, adding that they have little faith in the EU’s ability to manage it.

The statement is being lauded as a major setback in the TTIP negotiations by the deal’s opponents, among which are numbered trade unions, human rights and equalities groups, nationalist organisations, business associations and political groups on both the right and left of the political spectrum. Without the support of Germany, Europe’s most populous nation, the deal stands little chance of being accepted The judge’s statement effectively turns the compromise into a deal that no-one wants.

“The EU offices must be in turmoil now,” said Nick Dearden of UK-based campaign group Global Justice Now. “They were really nervous about ever getting through an agreement that had [Investment Protection clauses] in it, because every time they’ve done consultations on it people have overwhelmingly said they don’t like it. So they put this on the table.”

“[The judges’ statement] is obviously more interesting than when some campaigner says something, because they’re actually going to have to administer this thing,” he added. “For us it’s probably the most significant statement that any group has made so far on that part of the agreement.

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