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Monday, May 2, 2016

Labour MEPs today reiterated public services must be safeguarded in any EU-US trade deal and called on the US to match the EU's level of transparency, following the latest leak of documents on the TTIP negotiations.

The transparency of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations has been vastly improved as a result of pressure from civil society and MEPs, with the publication of the EU negotiating mandate and all EU proposals by the European Commission, Labour MEPs have said.

Labour MEPs also believe today's leak - mostly composed of so-called "consolidated documents" which include US positions - shows further progress on transparency is now entirely dependent on the US accepting EU transparency standards.

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on TTIP, said:

"Secrecy and the perception of secrecy is undermining trade policy and public trust in governments at all levels. Citizens, trade unions and NGOs have helped us secure greater transparency on the TTIP negotiations from the European Commission, to the extent that contrary to popular perception, TTIP is now the most transparent trade negotiation in the history of both the EU and the UK with all EU proposals publicly available. This says a lot about how secret trade negotiations have been in the past.

"But to go further we need the US to rise up to the standards set by the EU.

"Only last week MEPs adopted a report which sets as a rule every document related to trade negotiations should be public in principle. We called for the immediate disclosure of all agreed documents, such as some of the TTIP-consolidated documents that were leaked today. We simply shouldn't have to rely on leaks.

"If EU governments and the US want to reach a TTIP agreement which carries public support, they must democratise the process and allow full public scrutiny - secrecy and the inevitable leaks of information will only intensify mistrust."

David Martin MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group spokesperson on international trade, added:

"These leaked documents confirm what we have known for a long time: that the US will strongly champion their own interests in the TTIP negotiations. Labour MEPs demand that the EU be equally tough in upholding our own values, including safeguarding public services and high levels of consumer protection.

"We have been working hard with the European Commission to ensure standards will not be lowered as a result of this trade deal and there will not be a 'race to the bottom' in terms of health and safety, workers' rights or environmental legislation."

US must be as transparent as EU on TTIP negotiations, warn Labour MEPs

Monday, May 2, 2016 Labour MEPs today reiterated public services must be safeguarded in any EU-US trade deal and called on the US to match the EU's level of transparency,...

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Conservative MEPs on the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee voted today against a Labour amendment calling for companies to publish where they pay their taxes - in spite of George Osborne's recent pledge to support greater tax transparency in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

The Tories' vote against Labour's call for public country-by-country reporting - whereby companies in the EU publish exactly where they pay their money and where they pay their taxes - is the fifth time in the last 13 months they have voted against measures to tackle tax dodging, and make a mockery of the chancellor's comments that such proposals are "a step in the right direction towards new international rules for public transparency".

Tory MEPs Syed Kamall and Ashley Fox voted against the amendment, which was narrowly defeated 29-26 - had they voted in favour of the amendment it would have passed.

Anneliese Dodds MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on tax and co-author of the recent EP report on fighting tax avoidance and evasion, said:

"This is the fifth time in 13 months that the Conservatives have said one thing and voted in completely the opposite way. Despite George Osborne calling for public country-by-country reporting, Tory MEPs have consistently voted against it.

"Surely after the revelations of the Panama Papers, they should listen to public opinion and strengthen measures to fight tax avoidance and evasion in Europe? Instead they are voting against these proposals and setting back efforts to bring money back to the UK Treasury.

"George Osborne is either deliberately misleading the British people, or he is extremely poor at communicating with his colleagues in Europe."

Neena Gill MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, added:

"Public country-by-country reporting means companies declaring where they make their money and where they pay their tax, so tax authorities and taxpayers can see if they are paying their fair share. Do Tory MEPs not think they should do this?

"While thousands of small businesses in the UK and across Europe do the right thing and pay their full share, multinational companies move their profits between countries to avoid tax. Do Tory MEPs believe this to be fair?

"The Tories say one thing in public, sounding tough on tax avoidance and backing greater transparency, and then, when they thing no one's looking, vote the other way."

Tory MEPs vote against tax transparency for fifth time in thirteen months

Conservative MEPs on the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee voted today against a Labour amendment calling for companies to publish where they pay their taxes - in spite...

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The Leave campaign? It's the Trumpisation of politics, where prejudice is patriotism and knowledge is dangerous, writes Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader of Labour's MEPs.

Was it the Treasury analysis? The Bank of England Governor's warning? Or is it the ex-US Treasury Secretaries' warning against Brexit or President Obama's backing for Remain?

We've also had the farmers' and midwives' unions come out for remain; a House of Lords report on how our scientists benefit from EU membership; a Commons report concluding it's good for our environment; the Statistics Authority tearing Vote Leave's figures to shreds; and their campaign director imploding when grilled by MPs.

If Britain votes to remain in the European Union - and it remains an if, don't let anyone complacently tell you otherwise - historians will look back at last week, look at the reactions of the outers to the avalanche of evidence unleashed for staying in, and conclude that was the week Vote Leave and their Eurosceptic fellow-travellers finally lost the plot.

It's the same old story, the same stock responses to every report showing we're better off in, every national or international body pointing out the perils of Brexit, every domestic or global figure backing remain - in the eyes of the outers they are all either corrupt or disingenuous or in the pocket of the EU, unpatriotic, unprincipled and "doing Britain down", part of a CIA/Goldmans/Davos/Juncker-orchestrated conspiracy to weaken us and control our lives.

President Obama, for example, is "no friend of Britain" and, according to the crazier Brexitrolls, isn't even American anyway. People and organisations speaking up for the EU are attacked for past views they didn't even hold - like the claims the Treasury previously backed joining the euro - or, while in one breath attacking someone for never changing their views, in the next berating them for switching from No in '75 to Remain in 2016.

To every intervention, the response from the outers has been personal attacks and abuse, and the impugning of people's motives, not well-argued, fact-based rebuttal. Economists saying our GDP will shrink? Liars! Experts, who use real data, questioning their own figures? Well, they're 'experts' and as such are untrustworthy anyway! Major figures in business and politics? They're the establishment (unlike Boris, Farage or co, of course!).

It's the Trumpisation of politics, where prejudice is patriotism, knowledge is dangerous, academics, scientists and economists are 'experts' talking down to the public, facts are fiction and fiction is fact. Over the next nine weeks, expect to see more of this; to each and every remain action, there is an equal and opposite leave denunciation, devoid of evidence and rich in rage.

Meanwhile, right up until polling day, we will continue arguing the facts, pointing out how working people are better off inside the EU than out - through the millions of jobs dependent on our membership and the employment rights they enjoy - how we have stronger consumer rights, and how the best way we can tackle the challenges of climate change, terrorism and tax avoidance is by working with our partners to find common solutions.

The attacks will intensify, the mud slung will thicken, but the facts will still remain the facts. And as the evidence continues to mount in our favour, and the leave campaign looks ever-more incompetent, we cannot be complacent - we must and will keep on fighting, all the way up until June 23rd.

Glenis Willmott MEP is Labour's Leader in the European Parliament.

This blog originally appeared on the New Statesman.

Last week the Eurosceptics finally lost the plot

The Leave campaign? It's the Trumpisation of politics, where prejudice is patriotism and knowledge is dangerous, writes Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader of Labour's MEPs.

Read more

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