One of the main purposes of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade. The question is whether it is in the EU’s interest to reduce barriers that are caused by a difference in regulatory approach. In the area of environmental health, where the EU provides a higher level of protection, it is only in the EU’s interest to reduce regulatory barriers if the EU can maintain the same level of protection.
Through 12 concise points and 6 poignant case studies by organisations such as the University of Manchester, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), and the Health and Trade Network, this booklet aims to expose the toll CETA would take on public health.
A new international study proves that the TTIP and CETA free trade agreements are undermining the European “precautionary principle” for protecting consumers – with far-reaching consequences. For instance, chemicals that are not approved in the EU could enter the European market and food could be subject to increased exposure to pesticides. This is the conclusion of an international team of academics, stated in a legal opinion commissioned by the consumer organisation foodwatch.
The precautionary principle anchored in the treaties of the European Union forms an essential basis for health, environmental and consumer policies in Europe and differs from the “follow-up approach” adopted by the United States and Canada.
The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) advocates an environmentally sound character for the planned TTIP between the EU and the USA. TTIP sets out to intensify trade relations between the EU and the USA. It thus offers opportunities and perspectives for joint action in a globalised world. However, this presupposes that standards of protection enjoy the same importance as trade interests. Among other things, TTIP aims to bring about harmonisation or mutual recognition of environmental and consumer protection requirements and technical rules. However, this can also affect areas where the two sides of the Atlantic have very different ideas about the form protection should take, for example in the fields of agriculture and food production. Here steps must be taken to ensure that there is no lowering of standards and no delay in establishing regulations to protect the environment.
BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation, wants a future where consumer products no longer contain any dangerous substances. However, protecting consumers may become more difficult if rules to give the US government and business greater access to weigh in on the EU’s regulatory decisions on chemicals standards are included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). We see a real risk that current TTIP proposals would delay – or, worse still, thwart – progress to make consumer products safer. BEUC therefore wants chemicals to be excluded from TTIP’s regulatory cooperation chapters.
The negotiations the EU are having with the US over TTIP would, if concluded as currently desired by the Juncker Commission, lead to new governance structures and procedures with a central objective of eliminating trade and investment barriers. These barriers by definition include EU and US environmental, consumer and social protection rules.
This would create new opportunities for regulated industries to write their own rules through highly technical processes dominated by stakeholder consultations and trade impact assessments.The overriding objective to eliminate barriers to trade would effectively erode the EU’s existing right to adopt new legislative measures that would provide a higher level of protection than in the US.
In parallel to TTIP and much less well known, the Juncker Commission has adopted a new ‘Better Regulation’ package and, under pressure especially from the current UK and, to a lesser extent, Dutch governments and vested interests, taken the Better Regulation agenda further than any other Commission has done before.
EPHA position on Investment Protection in TTIP and Trade Agreements Response to the European Commission proposal for an Investment Court System to replace Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) (EPHA) (November 2015)
In the context of international trade agreements between partners with mature and stable democracies and Court systems, notably TTIP, an Investment Court System or ISDS clause is not necessary.
The public health community expects safeguards to ensure the EU and national governments are guaranteed the right in law and in practice to make policies and laws to protect and improve health. The mature and stable legal and political structures in the EU and US offer entirely adequate assurances to investors and are the only means of ensuring the continued sovereign right to regulate.
ClientEarth analysis shows that including investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms in EU trade agreements may not be compatible with EU law, including the new ‘Investment Court System’ proposed by the Commission on 16 September 2015.
ISDS mechanisms would set up an arbitration system outside of, but binding on, the EU judicial system. Such mechanisms would introduce an additional judicial relief within the EU legal order that is independent of the EU courts. It would, in effect, be a system that would enable foreign investors to sideline the EU courts and resort to claims that are not available to domestic investors.
EU law, and settled case-law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), suggest that such a system of external judicial control may be incompatible with the EU legal order because it would (1) undermine the autonomy of the EU legal order and the powers of the EU courts in particular and (2) negatively affect the completion of the internal market, and more specifically the EU competition rules.
Following the heated debate about the Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism proposed in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the European Commission has finally recognised that it lacks transparency and that its arbitrators are prone to conflict of interests. Nevertheless, its new proposal for an Investment Court System (ICS) fails to address some of the core flaws in ISDS, and therefore will not convince consumers that it is the appropriate way forward.
The report details how EU proposals for TTIP would usurp US states’ authority to regulate toxic chemicals. These proposals would not only curtail states’ efforts to protect the public from toxic exposure, but also threaten any State regulations in the public interest that exceed federal standards. State regulations that go beyond the woefully inadequate US Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) have been critical to protect public health and the environment from toxic exposure over the past three decades in the United States. Pending bills to reform TSCA in the US Congress – bills which are championed by the chemical industry — would dramatically preempt state authority on toxic chemicals. According to the new report, TTIP would go beyond these proposals, further eroding US state authority.
An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry’s interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.
The extent to which TTIP potentially presents risks for environmental safeguards depends on the detail of the deal that is struck, but there is not currently the transparency needed around the negotiations to be able to reach a view on whether such risks will be dealt with. EU member states, including the UK, will need to be more closely involved in the negotiations from now on, and engage in turn with environmental groups and agencies, to ensure that environmental issues are adequately considered. The next Government after the Election should ensure that the public and the House are given a full and timely opportunity to scrutinise the draft terms of any TTIP settlement before it is a done deal.
The declared objective of the planned TTIP is to unify EU and USA standards as much as possible by regulatory cooperation. However, an improper design of regulatory cooperation carries considerable risks for environmental protection in the EU: environmental standards might be lowered and environmental properties of products may be endangered. The main reasons for these risks are some substantial differences between the environmental regulations of the EU and the US: they will be explained in this paper. We will outline opportunities and risks of regulatory cooperation based on the EU proposal concerning environmental protection and show how the planned cooperation can be made more environmentally friendly.
Stronger, more progressive regulations for the protection of health and the environment are being targeted by industry for elimination under the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Where stronger laws and standards have been democratically adopted or are even proposed—for hazardous pesticides and other chemicals on only one side of the Atlantic, they have consistently been cast by industry as trade irritants, to be eliminated. Due to ongoing public health, food security and other concerns, several states of the United States and some Member States of the European Union con tinue to develop and advocate for stronger controls over the use of pesticides.
Prior to the sixth round of negotiations, American and European pesticide lobby groups CropLife America and the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), representing the interests of powerhouse pesticide corporations active on both sides of the Atlantic, such as BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta, produced recommendations for TTIP negotiators to consider on regulatory convergence.
This report provides a critical analysis of the CropLife-ECPA proposal for regulatory cooperation under TTIP. It demonstrates the pesticide industry’s actual goal of increasing trade while increasing the risk of harm to European and American citizens. It reveals the extent to which the pesticide industry is willing to go to maximize profits.
Toxic Partnership Revealed (CIEL/ClientEarth/NRDC) (October 2014)
A leaked text for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) from the European Commission shows that negotiations favor business interests over the protection of citizens’ health and the environment. The leaked “chemicals annex” closely follows the chemical industry’s agenda for TTIP to minimize regulatory differences between the US and the EU.
Civil society groups from the US and EU have repeatedly voiced deep concerns regarding the dangers of TTIP for the protection of human health and of the environment. Over 110 public health and environmental organizations in the EU and US object to the inclusion of the chemicals sector in any of TTIP’s relevant chapters, including Regulatory Coherence and Investment.
In May 2014, the European Commission disclosed to the public certain elements of their vision for “regulatory cooperation” between the EU and US on industrial chemicals under TTIP.
Like the chemical industry’s proposals from which they originate, the EU’s vision for TTIP in the chemicals sector would obstruct efforts to promote the substitution of harmful substances with safer alternatives, enshrined in EU chemical laws over the last decade.
TTIP negotiations have been criticised for their lack of transparency and little involvement of civil society. Concerns have been raised relating the potential weakening of existing standards and democratic procedures.
Protecting the public from toxic chemicals requires government action. The public health impacts linked to toxic chemicals —e.g. cancer, asthma, obesity, diabetes, difficulty conceiving and maintaining pregnancy, and many others—are growing. These disorders and diseases put an enormous strain on health care budgets, and these costs are borne by individuals and public resources, not chemical manufacturers.
In contrast to the weak US federal chemical management system, the European Union has begun to implement relatively stronger and more systematic policies, with some major trading partners in Asia following the EU’s lead. Even though there are still many gaps in the current EU regulatory system, our EU system, if properly implemented, can secure some tangible health benefits by protecting Europeans from certain toxic chemicals, unlike a systematically flawed US federal system.
This paper provides a critical analysis of, and response to, the trans-Atlantic chemical industry’s proposals for regulatory cooperation under TTIP. It demonstrates that, rather than improving the regulation of chemicals, their suggestions are likely to:
- Freeze progress in regulating toxic chemicals;
- Create an industry bypass around democracy;
- Give commercial interests and trade precedence over the protection of human health and the environment;
- Stifle innovation in safer chemicals; and
- Impede global action on toxic chemicals.
Henry Waxman of the U.S. Congress has released a report that shows that the U.S. Administration, at the request of the U.S. chemical industry, mounted a campaign to block the efforts of the European Union to require chemical companies to adequately assess the risks of chemicals that are sold in the marketplace. The report is based on documents obtained by the Environmental Health Fund, a small nonprofit environmental organization, and provided to the Special Investigations Division.