Leaked TTIP documents cast doubt on EU-US trade deal

Source: https://www.theguardian.com business/2016/may/01/leaked-ttip-documents-cast-doubt-on-eu-us-trade-deal

Greenpeace says internal documents show US attempts to lower or circumvent EU protection for environment and public health

Protesters wear masks of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel as they demonstrate against TTIP free trade agreement
Protesters wear masks of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel as they demonstrate against TTIP free trade agreement. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Talks for a free trade deal between Europe and the US face a serious impasse with “irreconcilable” differences in some areas, according to leaked negotiating texts.

The two sides are also at odds over US demands that would require the EU to break promises it has made on environmental protection.

President Obama said last week he was confident a deal could be reached. But the leaked negotiating drafts and internal positions, which were obtained byGreenpeace and seen by the Guardian, paint a very different picture.

“Discussions on cosmetics remain very difficult and the scope of common objectives fairly limited,” says one internal note by EU trade negotiators. Because of a European ban on animal testing, “the EU and US approaches remain irreconcilable and EU market access problems will therefore remain,” the note says.

Talks on engineering were also “characterised by continuous reluctance on the part of the US to engage in this sector,” the confidential briefing says.

These problems are not mentioned in a separate report on the state of the talks, also leaked, which the European commission has prepared for scrutiny by the European parliament.

These outline the positions exchanged between EU and US negotiators between the 12th andthe 13th round of TTIP talks, which took place in New York last week.

The public document offers a robust defence of the EU’s right to regulate and create a court-like system for disputes, unlike the internal note, which does not mention them.

Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU, said: “These leaked documents give us an unparalleled look at the scope of US demands to lower or circumvent EU protections for environment and public health as part of TTIP. The EU position is very bad, and the US position is terrible. The prospect of a TTIP compromising within that range is an awful one. The way is being cleared for a race to the bottom in environmental,consumer protection and public health standards.”

US proposals include an obligation on the EU to inform its industries of any planned regulations in advance, and to allow them the same input into EU regulatory processes as European firms.

American firms could influence the content of EU laws at several points along the regulatory line, including through a plethora of proposed technical working groups and committees.

“Before the EU could even pass a regulation, it would have to go through a gruelling impact assessment process in which the bloc would have to show interested US parties that no voluntary measures, or lessexacting regulatory ones, were possible,” Riss said.

The US is also proposing new articles on “science andrisk” to give firms greater regulatory say. Disputes over pesticides residues and food safety would be dealt with by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Codex Alimentarius system.

Environmentalists say the body has loose rules on corporate influence, allowing employees of companies such as BASF, Nestle and Coca Cola to sit on – and sometimes lead – national delegations. Some 44% of its decisions on pesticides residues have been less stringent than EU ones, with 40% of rough equivalence and 16% being more demanding, according to Greenpeace.

GM foods could also find a wideningwindow into Europe, with the US pushing for a working group to adopt a “low level presence initiative”. This would allow the import of cargo containing traces of unauthorised GM strains. The EU currently blocks these because of food safety and cross-pollination concerns.

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The EU has not yet accepted the US demands, but they are uncontested in the negotiators’ note, and no counter-proposals have been made in these areas.

In January, the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said [pdf] the precautionary principle, obliging regulatory caution where there is scientific doubt, was a core and non-negotiable EU principle. She said: “We will defend the precautionary approach to regulation in Europe, in TTIP and in all our other agreements.” But the principle is not mentioned in the 248 pages of TTIP negotiating texts.

The European commission has also promised to safeguard environmental laws, defend international standards and protect the EU’s right to set high greenbenchmarks in future.

But the new leak will not placatecritics of the deal, who have pointed to attempts by fossil fuel firms and others to influence its outcome, as a sign of things to come.

The EU negotiators internal note says “the US expressed that it would have toconsult with its chemical industry on how to position itself” on issues of market access for non-agricultural goods.

Where industry lobbying in regulatory processes is concerned, the US also “insisted” that the EU be “required” to involve USexperts in its development of electrotechnical standards.

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Over ariannelot

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Een reactie op Leaked TTIP documents cast doubt on EU-US trade deal

  1. ariannelot zegt:

    TTIP is a very bad excuse to vote for Brexit

    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/25/ttip-vote-brexit-barack-obama-leave-eu-trade-deal

    Nick Dearden
    Barack Obama gave TTIP the hard sell, but leaving the EU would only make the controversial trade deal more likely – and possibly worse

    null
    Monday 25 April 2016 13.04 BST

    arack Obama’s key message to Europe’s leaders last week was “let’s speed up TTIP”. The US-EU trade deal, formally called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, has been mired in controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. The “free trade” agenda has become poison in the US primaries, forcing even pro-trade Hillary Clinton to re-examine TTIP.

    The next round of talks begin on Monday in New York and Obama is worried – unless serious progress is made in coming months, his trade legacy may be doomed. The problem for the US president is selling TTIP at the same time as trying to warn against the dangers of Brexit. This is a tough ask because TTIP has been a godsend for Brexit campaigners, who argue that the deal is a major reason to cut loose from Brussels.

    It’s true that TTIP is a symbol of all that’s wrong with Europe: dreamed up by corporate lobbyists, TTIP is less about trade and more about giving big businesssweeping new powers over our society. It is a blueprint for deregulation and privatisation. As such it makes a good case for Brexit.

    If being in the EU has brought us TTIP, it has also brought us the means to stop it
    Until you remember that the British government has done everything possible to push the most extreme version of TTIP, just as they’ve fought against pretty much every financial regulation, from bankers bonuses to a financial transaction tax. While Germany and France were concerned about TTIP’s corporate court system – which allows foreign business to sue governments for “unfair” laws like putting cigarettes in plain packets – the UK secretly wrote to the European commission president demanding he retain it.

    At the heart of TTIP is a radical agenda of deregulation. The ambition is that everything from food standards to financial policies are “standardised” in the US and EU, with big business gaining new powers over the process. This could have been inspired by David Cameron’s own programme of stripping away laws that annoy big business, no matter how important they are for people and the environment.

    Cameron’s policy means scrapping two laws for every one brought in and giving every regulatory body the duty to have regard to the desirability of “promoting economic growth”. That could include the equality and human rights commission and the health and safety executive. The TUC described Britain as “exporting their anti-worker position into Europe and it is spreading like a bad outbreak of gastric flu”.

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    What is TTIP? Everything you need to know about the ‘super sexy’ trade acronym – video
    Brexit wouldn’t necessarily stop TTIP anyway – that’s all down to the transition process. At the very least, Britain would need to adopt many of TTIP’s provisions in order to remain in the single market.

    But it gets worse: every scenario for Brexit is premised on extreme free trade agreements coupled with looser regulation to make us more competitive. “Outcompeting” the EU through lower standards is the strategy. High-profile supporters of the Brexit campaign have repeatedly said that they believe the UK would be able to realise a more “ambitious” and faster free trade deal if we stood alone. There’s every reason to think that Brexit will turn the UK into a paradise for free market capitalism: a TTIP on steroids.

    What is TTIP and why should we be angry about it?
    Read more
    Is there any hope? Yes – the movement to defeat TTIP received the support of well over 3 million Europeans in a little over a year. In Berlin, 250,000 people took to the streets last October. The deal was meant to be signed by now – but together, Europe’s people have seriously stalled things. Would it really be possible to stop such a move if we couldn’t link up with campaigners across Europe? If being in the EU has brought us TTIP, it has also brought us the means to stop it.

    Europe also allows the potential to take on the corporate power which TTIP symbolises: the biggest threat to our sovereignty. Even in the best of circumstances, there is only so much a small nation state can do against the size and power of global big business. But through being in Europe we could stop tax avoidance, introduce a financial transactions tax, hold corporations legally responsible for their human rights abuses, enforce world-leading climate targets, develop new forms of public ownership of key resources. At least, we could if Britain stopped standing in the way.

    Obama’s rationale for avoiding Brexit is quite different. The US establishment has always been interested in Britain’s role as a fifth column in Europe, undermining a social Europe on behalf of global (read US) corporations. Reclaiming our sovereignty means not playing this role, and instead working with those in Europe who want to build a different world. Another Europe is possible.

    Like

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