Not that surprisingly to those who have followed the TTIP debate even just halfheartedly, a mid-sized flood of amendments have recently been raining down on the INTA-secretariat.
The object of all these amendments has been the DRAFT REPORT containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (named with Parliament’s usual ability to make almost anything sound sleep-inducing) – the International Trade Committee’s own-initiative report on the ever-divisive issue of EU-US trade negotiations.
The question now is if the amount of amendments could contribute to delay the vote on the report?
In all almost 900 amendments (898 to be precise) were submitted to the report, but this number is likely to increase. This is because – again not really surprising given the general interest for the topic – several of Parliament’s other committees have decided to produce opinions to the INI-report. These will in the end also appear as a set of amendments to the original draft
While it is the right of the parliamentarians to submit their amendments in any of the 24 official languages of the European Union, it seems most MEPs (at least of those in the INTA-Committee) have had a clear preference for the English language.
As can be seen from the graph above, close to two-thirds of all the amendments were submitted in English, with French and German coming in at a distant second and third place respectively.
Unfortunately as we write this the amendments have not yet been published, let alone translated into all the official languages yet. While having the vast majority of amendments in English can speed up the process (both for the shadow-rapporteurs and the translators), it seems likely that the final translations into all the official languages will only come very late – maybe even only on the night before the vote.
An unusual amount?
No, not really. While having that many amendments to a report in the European Parliament is in itself not that extraordinary (several reports have had many more), what is interesting is that we are still talking about a non-legislative report. Meaning that Parliament is fully entitled to make a report and voice their opinion … but the Commissioners and their negotiation teams are not obliged to take any of it on board.
Knowing that Parliament will in the end have to say either Yes or No to the final deal, it goes without saying that it would be less than advisable for the Commission to complete ignore it. However, what some MEPs might be forgetting is, that while they might be getting ready to fight over the very precise wording of this or that paragraph in the report they cannot be assured that it will matter what they end up adopting – or at least not the details of it.
Now or later?
Never the less the amount of amendments, combined with at least one of the opinion-giving committees (ENVI) being late, it looks like the original time plan might have to be adjusted. Considering that a debate on the submitted amendments was originally planned for April 14th, a small delay seems understandable
As some of the leading members of the Committee are rumoured to have said (and yes, now we are paraphrasing what we’ve heard): Why not? Because honestly, what is the rush?
This is of course true, especially considering that:
- The report is an own-initiative report, meaning there is no real rush from the other institutions to finish it now.
- It is not like the TTIP-negotiations anyway seem to be progressing with the speed of light, so a small delay in Parliament is not likely to mean that the final report will be overtaken (and made redundant) by a finished agreement suddenly appearing.
The question now is then how much of a delay we could be taking about.
A new plan?
From the rumours coming out of the Committee it looks like the coordinators have supported a plan that would provide more time for debate and – maybe more interestingly for some – negotiations of compromises.
This adjustment will mean that the INTA-vote will be postponed until the committee-meeting at the end of May (on the 28th), with a likely plenary vote being moved to the June-plenary session.
If this hold true those wishing to follow the debate on the TTIP-amendments in the committee might want to instead watch out for the meetings on May 6th and 7th (where the committee-vote was originally planned for).
To sum up, this new plan could look something like this:
- 6-7 May: Debate on amendments in INTA
- 28 May: Vote on the report in INTA
- 8-11 June: Plenary vote on the report.
In between those dates expect shadows and their staff to be dealing with compromises and voting lists – as well as no doubt fending of small hordes of last-minute lobbying attempts
Our apologies to our readers for having neglected this blog the past month – but we have been swamped with our trainings and other work. We hope to be able to now provide you more regular updates once again.
This is however also a good chance to promote our next two EP Boot Camp trainings that we have coming up: Friday April 24 and Friday May 22. There are still a few available spots if you should be interested.
You can read more about them here.