The need for controversial dispute resolution provisions to protect investors has not been demonstrated in the free trade deal being negotiated between the EU and US, according to a parliamentary report which lambasts the quality of debate on the issue.
In a report on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) published before parliament was dissolved, the House of Commons business, innovation and skills committee says the debate on TTIP has been marked by a dearth of information and too much 'dog-whistle' politics on each side.
This applies especially to investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS), which typically provide for claims by businesses against governments to be heard at an international court rather than through the domestic legal system.
The MPs conclude that: 'We have yet to be convinced of the need for ISDS provisions in TTIP. The UK government and the EU must demonstrate that the advanced legal institutions of the EU and the US cannot protect foreign investors before any ISDS is considered in the TTIP.'
Should ISDS provisions be included in TTIP, the committee calls for clauses to dismiss frivolous claims, a presumption that the loser should pay the the cost of cases and a statement that the right to regulate by sovereign nations takes precedence over an investor's right to invest.
Warning of concerns about an 'oversimplification and misrepresentation of arguments' on both sides the report criticises both the opposition campaign group 38 Degrees and supporter BritishAmerican Business for the quality of evidence on the topic.
Urging its successor committee to continue probing the deal, it says: 'Everyone involved in the debate on TTIP—campaigners, lobbyists, business groups, the UK government and the European Commission—must ensure that an evidence-based approach is taken.'