Documents leaked by the Dutch chapter of Greenpeace reveal the US’s negotiating position on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Deal (TTIP), which was largely unknown until now.
The documents, which were leaked in Berlin at 11am on Monday, give 248 pages of details about the proposed trade deal between the EU and the US. Apparently the text is very recent, prepared sometime last week during the 13th negotiation round in New York. The text’s 13 chapters represent two-thirds of the total text of the trade deal, and cover issues like regulatory cooperation and trade barriers. The US president is pushing to finalize TTIP before he leaves office, but his efforts on the already controversial deal could be further complicated by these revelations.
The director of Greenpeace EU, Jorgo Riss, said: “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.”
The US position is now public.
Until now, there have been few written details over the US’ position in the TTIP negotiations. Now that the documents are public for the first time, we can see that as part of the deal, the Americans pressured the EU to weaken environmental and consumer protections.
“The effects of TTIP would be initially subtle but ultimately devastating. It would lead to European laws being judged on their consequences for trade and investment – disregarding environmental protection and public health concerns.” – Jorgo Riss, Director of Greenpeace EU
Greenpeace have noted four primary issues in the documents:
Less protections for human, animal, and plant life
- The “General Exceptions” rule from the GATT agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which contains two 70 year old clauses that allow countries to restrict trade to “to protect human, animal and plant life or health”, or for “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources”, is missing from the TTIP text. This weakens environmental protection and precautions toward the safety of human and animals.
No climate protections
- The text of TTIP contains no information about climate protection measures. Trade should be included in the international effort to reduce CO2 emissions, per the Paris Summit’s specifications to keep temperature increase under 1.5 degrees.
Weaker product regulation
- The US wants the EU to disregard their precautionary principle and replace it with “risk management”, a weaker approach to product regulation. The EU’s precautionary principle only allows genetically modified food once it is proven harmless to humans and the environment. The US’s risk management approach would entail allowing genetically modified foods until they are proven harmful.
More corporate lobbying
- The documents suggest that corporations would be given provisions for greater access, influence, and participation in decision making. Corporations can apparently influence policy making processes via committees and advisory groups. There is also a discussion of private arbitration on matters where companies can call for tribunals when their profits are threatened by the laws of foreign governments. This could allow companies to have unfair influence over democratically legitimate laws.
The European position is already well-known.
The European commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström, who is leading negotiations with the US, made clear via her blog post on Monday that the EU has already been forthcoming about its positions in the negotiations.
“In the past year, the European Commission has opened up the negotiations to make our positions on all matters in the negotiations public. After each negotiating round, we publish round reports as well as our position papers and textual proposals. So the positions of the EU are well-known and nothing new.” Cecilia Malmström, European commissioner for trade.
The documents reveal several areas where the EU and the US won’t be able to come to an agreement, and in such a case, there are no signs that the European negotiators are willing to make concessions or compromise on certain positions.
Malmström said, “…the end result of a negotiation would have to be cleared by those 28 Member States and the European Parliament before becoming reality.”
These irreconcilable differences include using animal testing for cosmetics and allowing more genetically modified foods to be sold in Europe.
Malmström said, “It begs to be said, again and again: No EU trade agreement will ever lower our level of protection of consumers, or food safety, or of the environment. Trade agreements will not change our laws on GMOs, or how to produce safe beef, or how to protect the environment. … Any EU trade deal can only change regulation by making it stronger. We might agree with a partner that rules on the safety of medicines would be tougher than before, for example, but never weaker. No trade deal will limit our ability to make new rules to protect our citizens or environment in the future.”