For someone is not a surprise. The documents leaked by Greenpeace today confirmed several associations, consumer groups, concerned citizens worst fear on TTIP. According to the 240 pages of the agreement, the American trade negotiators pressed their European counterparts to loosen important environmental, consumer protection and other provisions as part of the deal.
Hard won environmental progress is being bartered away behind closed doors. These documents reveal that civil society was right to be concerned about TTIP. We should stop the negotiations and start the debate. The complete and most recent version of the treaty text should be released at once, so that citizens and elected representatives have the chance to understand what is being proposed in their names.
The US proposals, explains well the The Guardian, 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.
These leaked documents confirm what we have been saying for a long time: TTIP would put corporations at the centre of policy-making, to the detriment of environment and public health. We have known that the EU position was bad, now we see the US position is even worse. A compromise between the two would be unacceptable.
From an environmental and consumer protection point of view four aspects are of serious concern:
Long standing environmental protections appear to be dropped
None of the chapters Greenpeace has seen, have reference the General Exceptions rule. This nearly 70-year-old rule enshrined in the GATT agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), allows nations to regulate trade “to protect human, animal and plant life or health" or for "the conservation of exhaustible natural resources". The omission of this regulation suggests both sides are creating a regime that places profit ahead of human, animal and plant life and health.
Climate protection will be harder under TTIP
The Paris Climate Agreement makes one point clear: We must keep temperature increase under 1.5 degrees to avoid a climate crisis with effects on billions of people worldwide. Trade should not be excluded from climate action. But nothing indicating climate protection can be found in the obtained texts. Even worse, the scope for mitigation measures is limited by provisions of the chapters on Regulatory Cooperation or Market Access for Industrial Goods. As an example these proposals would rule out regulating the import of CO2 intensive fuels such as oil from Tar Sands.
The end of the precautionary principle
The precautionary principle, enshrined in the EU Treaty, is not mentioned in the chapter on Regulatory Cooperation, nor in any other of the obtained 12 chapters. On the other hand the US demand for a ‘risk based’ approach that aims to manage hazardous substances rather than avoid them, finds its way into various chapters. This approach undermines the ability of regulators to take preventive measures, for example regarding controversial substances like hormone disrupting chemicals.
Opening the door for corporate takeover
While the proposals threaten environmental and consumer protection, big business gets what it wants. Opportunities to participate in decision making are granted to corporations to intervene at the earliest stages of the decision making process. While civil society has had little access to the negotiations, there are many instances where the papers show that industry has been granted a privileged voice in important decisions. The leaked documents indicate that the EU has not been open about the high degree of industry influence.
EU chief negotiator Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that the so-called "consolidated texts" in a trade negotiation are not the same thing as an outcome. They reflect each side's negotiating position, nothing else. Here the Commissioner's reaction to the leaks.