EU parliament delays vote on US trade deal

Several EU figures, most prominently European Parliament president Martin Schulz, believe a referendum defeat for the Greek government should lead to its resignation (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand) (AFP/File)

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - The European Parliament on Tuesday postponed its landmark first ever vote on a massive and controversial trade deal between the EU and the United States.

Euro MPs had been due to vote on Wednesday on limits for negotiators involved in the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

"But the vote will not take place," the office of European Parliament President Martin Schulz said, adding that it was because there had been too many proposed amendments.

"It's panic in parliament," said Green MEP Yannick Jadot, from France.

Political groups had previously appeared to be close to a compromise on the parliament's "red lines" for negotiators, so that they would not unduly hamper the deal.

But the socialist group in the parliament insisted on Tuesday on excluding from the trade deal a controversial mechanism for resolving disputes with investors.

The dispute mechanism is the key objection among campaigners and many European lawmakers.

They fear that the arbitration panel foreseen in the deal would effectively allow companies to bypass national courts if they feel their investments are under threat.

Brussels has proposed a separate investment court but Washington insists the current arrangements are adequate.

Hundreds of demonstrations were held across Europe in April against the deal, which US and European leaders have vowed to press through by next year.