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Opposing TTIP to safeguard democracy, protect people’s health and the environment

As the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) continue, concern continues to grow both in Brussels and across the EU Member States. MEPs in the Environmnent Committee now call for the exclusion of chemicals and public health services in the agreement.

On 16 April the European Parliament Environment, Food Safety and Public Health Committee (ENVI) voted on its recommendations on TTIP for the EU Commission. A very large majority supported opposition to the ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ clause, which has been used by corporations predominantly to challenge governmental environment and health protection measures, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The final opinion also recommended a clear exclusion of public health services and REACH implementation from the negotiations. The ENVI Committee recommendations now pass to the Trade Committee (INTA) which will hold its vote on 28 May, followed by the full parliamentary plenary vote in early June.

Last month, several civil society organisations expressed these concerns in a letter to the EU Commissioners for Health, Trade and Agriculture, emphasising that TTIP will shift priorities away from ensuring and valuing food safety and quality, workers’ rights and animal welfare to the maximisation of trade, and hence lower common standards.

Controversy continues to follow the TTIP negotiations, despite the EU Commission’s claims that the fears of TTIP weakening EU standards are unfounded. A leaked document recently showed that the EU Commission is proposing that the US have the power to question EU countries’ national laws and regulatory plans under the section on regulatory cooperation.

Actions from civil society on TTIP

The 18 April marked the annual global day of action against TTIP, with many events across Europe.

Although this was a specific day of action on TTIP, there have been other occasions to raise awareness on the topic. Recently, a program on the German TV channel ZDF examined how TTIP could pose risks for humans and the environment, and looked specifically at its effect on German and European safety standards in relation to pesticides residue levels, and which pesticides are authorised. Ninja Reineke of EDC-Free Europe campaign partner CHEM Trust noted that stronger limits for residues could be seen as trade barriers, and that TTIP strives to eliminate such barriers, regardless of their original purpose.

- The program is available here
- CHEM Trust blog post: The EU claims that TTIP won’t reduce EU food safety standards – but is this true?, 20 April 2015

In late March, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) expressed concerns that the goal of TTIP to harmonise regulations and standards as much as possible may lower EU environmental standards down because of the generally lower US standards. More information available here

Last updated on 8 May 2015

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