Friday, March 18, 2016

Tipped off again about TTIP

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the USA. One of the main issues around the negotiations is that so many of the talks have been carried out in secret, with media leaks the only way the public is being informed as to what is happening. One leaked document obtained by campaign group the Independent and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) from the ongoing EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations reveals the unelected Commission will have authority to decide in which areas there should be cooperation with the US – leaving EU member states and the European Parliament further sidelined. The European Commission will be obliged to consult with US authorities before adopting new legislative proposals. The plans revealed by the document will give the US regulatory authorities a “questionable role” in Brussels lawmaking and weaken the European Parliament. It shows a labyrinth of procedures that could tie up any EU proposals that go against US interests. The document also reveals the extent to which major corporations and industry groups will be able to influence the development of regulatory cooperation by making what is referred to as a “substantial proposal” to the working agenda of the Commission and US agencies.

Kenneth Haar, researcher for CEO, said: “EU and US determination to put big business at the heart of decision-making is a direct threat to democratic principles. This document shows how TTIP’s regulatory cooperation will facilitate big business influence – and US influence – on lawmaking before a proposal is even presented to parliaments.”  CEO says greater regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US has already led to public health concerns – such as the EU failing to regulate hormone-disrupting chemicals and the recent Glyphosate relicensing controversy. CEO claims that on both issues the Commission listened closely to US authorities and big business despite the health threats posed by these chemicals to EU citizens.

Nick Dearden, director of the Global Justice Now campaign group, said: “The leak absolutely confirms our fears about TTIP. It’s all about giving big business more power over a very wide range of laws and regulations. In fact, business lobbies are on record as saying they want to co-write laws with governments – this gets them a step closer. This isn’t an ‘add on’ or a small part of TTIP – it’s absolutely central.” Dearden said it was “scary” that the US could get the power to challenge and amend European regulations before elected European politicians have had the chance to debate them. Referring to the imminent EU referendum, he said: “We’re talking about sovereignty at the moment in this country – it’s difficult to imagine a more serious threat to our sovereignty than this trade deal.”

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