In a vote on Wednesday, the European Parliament is expected to pass a resolution supporting the trans-Atlantic free trade deal, on the condition that any agreement prohibits private arbitration that could allow U.S. multinationals to challenge European food and environmental laws.
Lawmakers in the 751-seat assembly want the planned international arbitration courts to be replaced by a transparent system consisting of publicly appointed, independent judges resolving disputes in public hearings.
This is one of the most contentious issues and has so far been the main obstacle in talks: the so-called investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that large companies are calling for, which would allow them to appeal to international arbitration courts against regulations or laws that hurt their profits.
Three weeks ago, the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, suspended a vote on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) because the differences between the two main political groups in the assembly, the conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats, were too great.
“He can’t afford to do that a second time,” said one member of parliament. He probably won’t need to. The two political camps have already agreed on the wording.