Concerns about possible negative effects of an EU and US trade agreement are the subject of a letter sent to European Trade ministers today.
Friends of the Earth Europe, the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC) and Eurogroup for Animals today wrote to the 27 ministers to raise concerns about the threat a deal could pose to environmental, consumer, and social regulatory standards.
The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council is expected to meet in Brussels on Friday June 14 to approve a mandate for the European Commission to negotiate a trade agreement, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Paul de Clerck, economic justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The trade negotiations between the EU and the US will have significant impacts on regulatory standards which touch upon all aspects of life for people and the environment on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering the current economic and financial challenges, as well as the climate emergency, it is absolutely essential that any agreement builds on regulatory pillars such as the precautionary and polluter-pays principles and allows countries to introduce safeguards that go beyond those in the partnership. Specific rights for investors should absolutely be excluded from the agreement.”
In the letter, the three organisations make the following points:
- Negotiations should be fully open to public scrutiny, including through the publication of the negotiating texts. There should be full transparency about the exact scope of the agreement and consultation with civil society about the mandate.
- Negotiations should aim at the highest common standard. Regulatory convergence should not be used to lower existing environmental, social, or consumer protection standards.
- National governments should retain the rights to maintain or introduce higher standards which go beyond what is agreed in the TTIP. These should be applied in a non-discriminatory way to domestic and foreign producers and suppliers.
- Investor States Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions should be excluded from the mandate. This mechanism allows foreign investors to legally challenge national governments, thereby elevating them to the same status as sovereign states. As both the EU and the US have well-functioning court systems, there is absolutely no need to include such provisions in the agreement.