The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed a landmark decision by the European Court of Justice which ruled against the attempts of the European Commission to silence debate on the controversial proposed TTIP trade deal between the EU and USA.
On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice annulled a decision by the European Commission in 2014 that rejected a European Citizens Initiative entitled “Stop-TTIP” which secured over 3 million signatories.
Carthy said: “The decision handed down by the European Court of Justice is an important development in a campaign that has mobilised millions of citizens across Europe.
“Citizens Initiatives were introduced with the stated aim of improving the democratic functioning of the European Union. However, as Sinn Féin predicted during the Lisbon Treaty campaigns the Commission have refused to appropriately address initiatives even when they successful secure the required number of signatures.
“In 2014 the European Commission rejected the Stop-TTIP European Citizens Initiative saying that preparatory decisions, such as decisions to open international trade negotiations, did not fall within the rules laid down.
“Similar arguments to this have been continually used in recent years by proponents of dangerous trade deals who are intent on quashing public debate and avoiding democratic accountability. The Commission used similar reasoning to refuse meetings with me following publication of a legal opinion I commissioned which confirms that the Investment Chapter of TTIP and CETA would infringe the Irish Constitution. They consistently use similar reasoning to refuse to answer questions on ongoing negotiations, including Parliamentary Questions. It is this reasoning that has led to the unacceptable position that TTIP’s sister agreement, CETA (EU-Canada deal), is currently being ‘provisionally’ implemented despite the facts that it has yet to be ratified by national parliaments as required.
“This judgement is a victory for millions of citizens who have campaigned against TTIP and CETA over the last three years. The Court has stated categorically that the “Stop-TTIP” initiative was not an inadmissible interference in the legislative procedure, as the commission contended, but rather the legitimate initiation of a democratic debate in a timely manner.
“The European Commission and Commissioner Malstrom can no longer continue shutting the door to debate on their regressive and dangerous trade agenda.
“And the Irish Government can no longer continue to cheer-lead that agenda while refusing to allow its consequences for Ireland be debated in the Dáil, much less in the wider public arena. As the first step the government must allow a Dáil debate on their unwavering support for CETA despite the threats it presents to Irish agriculture, our indigenous business sector and our political & judicial structures.
“We have it in black and white now: ‘Nothing justifies excluding from democratic debate legal acts seeking the withdrawal of...negotiations with a view to concluding an international agreement’.
“If Minister Mitchell O’Connor and the government continue to refuse a debate, then they risk not only violating the Irish Constitution on the basis of the Investment Court, but directly contradicting a decision of the European Court of Justice.”