Business business The implementation of the world’s largest free-trade agreement has been halted once again, as opinions continue to diverge among the European Union and the United States in discussions. Representatives from the European Union and the United States initiated negotiations in the summer of 2013 to establish the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The TTIP is an international effort to remove barriers to trade and investment across the Atlantic. The partnership is set to become the largest free-trade area in the world, with the EU and the United States representing 45% of the global GDP today. The ISDS is however received positively across the United States, and is demanded to be included in the final agreement. US Undersecretary for International Trade at the Commerce Department, Stefan Selig, said the United States believes the ISDS mechanism “increases the security of companies willing to make investments and arguably makes that country, whether it’s the United States or any country in Europe, a more attractive investment destination.” 15 Cecilia Malmström The negotiations have been consistent since the summer of 2013, but recent disputes over specific aspects of the TTIP have halted progress. What has recently become the main debate in TTIP negotiations is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). An agreement has proven difficult as current ISDS are by critics considered threatening to national regulations within the European Union. With the ISDS system, corporations will be able to challenge national governments, and impact sovereign governments’ right to regulate. The expressed concerns are regarding the extensive authority this would provide corporations with, in relation to national authorities. The ISDS would allow corporations to sue governments when legislation was introduced that may be harmful to company profits. Critics say the current court set-up gives companies too much power to sue governments abroad if investments run into problems. In a recent proposal published in May by Malmström, the Commission suggests an ISDS system with functions more similar to traditional courts. This involves the appointment of permanent arbitrators, with similar qualifications to those of national judges, and the introduction of a bilateral appeal system. Despite a revised version of the agreement, the full Parliament voting was delayed June 10th this year, as the resistance towards the current ISDS Swedish politician, and member of Folkpartiet, (the Swedish Liberal Party) Cecilia Malmström, is currently holding the vital position of EU Trade Commissioner in the European Commission. In connection to the ongoing discussions on ISDS, she recently expressed that “excluding ISDS from TTIP means missing the best chance to reform the system for a generation”. Malmström has been a strong advocate for EU legislation, and further stated that she will work hard at enforcing EU and national legislation in areas such as food safety or environmental protection. Further steps towards finalizing the TTIP agreement were taken on July 8th as the European Parliament voted to keep the ISDS system in the agreement. What the ISDS system will look like will be decided during further discussions, and the voting on ISDS systems will most certainly become ruling for the future of the trade agreement, which is set to be concluded by the end of 2015. Many critics, however, state that the TTIP negotiations will most likely continue on into 2016 as well. TEXT: Sofie Ågren SOURCE & PHOTOS: The European Commission SACC-PHILADELPHIA The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was continuously too strong.