Scare tactics on TTIP is no substitute for real debate
Brian Hayes MEP today said that Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy’s assertion that a referendum in Ireland would be needed on TTIP is just another incorrect claim in their ongoing scaremongering of a possible TTIP agreement. It’s the politics of the lowest common denominator and it needs to be challenged by those of us who are ambitious for Ireland.
“Speaking on RTE’s This Week programme on Sunday 6th March, Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy claimed that a referendum will be needed in Ireland on TTIP due to the inclusion of a proposed Investment Court which would safeguard Government’s right to regulate on certain sectors.
“Mr. Carthy said that based on one legal opinion he has commissioned that an Investment Court would ‘certainly infringe articles 34.1 and 34.3(1) of the Constitution’ which vest power in the Irish courts and that a referendum would be required.
“TTIP is not about setting up a new court to rival our court system. It’s about having a dispute resolution system between the US and the EU, where differences emerge to protect free trade across the Atlantic.
“The fact of the matter is that the government, through the Attorney General’s office, have already got legal advice on this and the proposed system of arbitration does not give rise to any constitutional implications. The arbitration system as proposed by the Commission will effectively be a tribunal system which would arbitrate claims of damages or unfair treatment of, for example, an Irish business against the US government. There is absolutely no question of Irish or other courts being overruled by such an Investment Court or any Irish legislation being overturned.”
“This is a scare tactic employed by Sinn Fein over many years on EU related issues.
“We already have in place the EU Energy Charter Treaty which provides for dispute settlement through arbitration rules and to which Ireland has been a signatory since 1999. This was ratified without any requirements for a referendum on constitutional grounds. Can Sinn Fein explain why they did not oppose the Energy Charter Treaty?
“Sinn Fein also claims that the biggest concern regarding TTIP is the inclusion of an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). I’m not sure if they are aware that out of the roughly 1400 Trade Agreements that the EU has negotiated, almost all of them included an ISDS mechanism. Can Sinn Fein explain why they did not campaign against all previous EU trade agreements that included ISDS?
“The reality is that a dispute resolution mechanism is needed in TTIP as this gives Irish businesses a chance to challenge any unfair treatment by the US government, such as discrimination or unlawful expropriation. Irish exporters would not always have access to local courts or may not be able depend on them to give an adequate independent assessment, therefore a dispute resolution mechanism could act as an arbitrator if that company feels that legal principles have been breached. That’s especially important in the US as frequently local state courts do not recognise international treaties.
“I do agree with Matt Carthy that there has been a lack of debate on TTIP. But that debate is not helped by the political scaremongering. We need a rational debate on TTIP. If we want to see the potential of the all island economy of Ireland – opening up to trade rather than erecting barriers is the way to go.”