The controversial proposed EU-US trade deal ran into further trouble yesterday when the European parliament postponed at the last minute a vote to endorse Europe’s negotiating position.  

Opponents of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) interpret the delay as indicating that member states thought they would incur a ‘bloody nose’ in the vote, amid strong opposition to the so-called ‘corporate courts’ envisaged in the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.  

TTIP’s opponents claim ISDS is anti-democratic because it would enable companies to sue states whose legislation had a negative impact on their economic activity.

Parliamentary leaders hoped to agree on a resolution today backing the European Commission in the talks. But following a flurry of more than 200 amendments from MEPs, the parliament’s president, Martin Schulz, sent the resolution back to the parliament’s International Trade Committee.

One such amendment, from North East England MEP Jude Kirton-Darling, seeks to to remove the ‘toxic’ ISDS.

It is now being suggested that the vote could be delayed until September, killing off hopes expressed by world leaders at last weekend’s G7 summit for the TTIP negotiations to be concluded this year.

Opposition to the proposed treaty figured in several UK party election manifestos, including those of the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party, and Ukip.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith said today: ‘As a former lawyer myself, I find the idea that companies and investors need a specific set of rules outwith the general law to be flatly offensive, given we are talking about some of the most developed legal jurisdictions on the world.’