"It is not for the CoR to answer the question "to TTIP or not to TTIP?". However, many of the issues covered by TTIP negotiations touch upon competences of local and regional authorities: public services, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), geographical indications. Moreover, as it is highly likely that the agreement will be considered as a mixed agreement, it will require ratification by EU-28 parliaments, including chambers representing the regional level. Therefore, the European Commission cannot afford to ignore the local and regional dimension of TTIP". It is in these terms that Karl-Heinz Lambertz
, President of the Socialist Group in the Committee of the Regions (CoR), took today the floor in response to Karel De Gucht
, European Commissioner responsible for Trade, and Anthony Gardner
, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, who debated with CoR members the potential regional impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Lambertz went on stressing: "So far, the European Commission has focused its consultations on NGOs and civil society. On the contrary, the US has established a task force, involving the US federal states. It is obvious to me that the CoR should be granted interested party status on the EU side. This would also help to build the largest possible consensus and to avoid a repeat of the ACTA failure". He reminded that content-wise, Pascal Lamy has compared the TTIP endeavour with the EU's internal market, which was not built overnight. "This is why it might be worth segmenting the negotiations and considering for instance ISDS at a later stage. For the time being, TTIP appears too big not to fail". Markus Töns
, Member of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia and CoR rapporteur on the TTIP
, added: "The European Union is a community of values, not a mere economic community. Citizens therefore wonder whether TTIP contributes towards fostering sustainability, social progress and environmental protection, or merely serving enterprises. A strengthened transatlantic partnership must not put at stake European standards we have been fighting hard for, but must serve our general interest of social cohesion", he concluded.
The rapporteur will discuss the issue this Friday with stakeholders
. His draft opinion will be adopted at the Committee of the Regions ECOS meeting on 17 December and be voted in the February 2015 CoR plenary session.
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