Parliamentary leaders had hoped to agree on a resolution Wednesday backing the European Commission in the talks — and trumpeted the recent approval of a fragile compromise in its International Trade Committee (INTA) as a sign that negotiations could at last move forward. Although Parliament’s approval is not essential at this stage, it is considered vital for the project’s success.
Instead, strong opposition from many members of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group and pressure from non-governmental organizations opposed to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) made a broader agreement impossible to achieve before Wednesday’s planned vote.
MEPs in the Socialists and Democrats group are badly split and appealed to the Parliament’s president, Socialist Martin Schulz, for the delay. Schulz used his executive powers to put off the vote.
Under a deluge of more than 200 amendments from MEPs, the Parliament’s president, Martin Schulz, decided Tuesday to send the text of the resolution back to INTA. The sudden change of plans illustrates just how controversial TTIP has become in Europe.
At the G7 summit earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged a rapid conclusion to the trade talks.
“This is a complete embarrassment for the Socialists & Democrats group,” said MEP Christofer Fjellner from the European People’s Party. In my 11 years in this house, I cannot remember something like this happening.”
Related to this: As, the EPP became more conservative and economically liberal (such as the German Christian democrats) in late 1990s partly as a result of more right-wing parties joining the EPP (such as the British, Spanish and Italian conservatives), the the EPP group started having quite different views to the socialists on many of the market and regulation issues passing through the European Parliament.
In contrast, the liberals started to vote less with the EPP and more with the socialists. The policy distance between the parties, rather than by the relative sizes of the political groups, suggests that policy preferences on trade issues are more important for EPP group.
POLITICO.com has the details and more on MEPs reaction on the vote: