13th Nov 2018

EU ignores MEP demands on US free trade deal, NGOs say

  • The 14th round of EU-US trade talks will take place in Brussels from Monday 11 to Friday 15 July 2016. (Photo: European Commission)

Opposition against the EU's free-trade deal with the United States continues to mount in the lead up to the next round of talks next week.

On Thursday (7 July), organisations representing farmers and the environment, among others, sent a letter of protest against the trade talks to the head of the European parliament Martin Schulz.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Commission is negotiating the so-called Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) in the hope of getting a deal before the end of US president's Obama term.

But the groups say the Brussels-executive has defied EU parliament demands not to discuss issues like chemicals "where the EU and the US have very different rules".

David Azoulay, a senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), says the commission is ignoring parliament's recommendations to keep chemicals out of TTIP.

“As it stands, TTIP threatens the EU’s ability to limit exposure to toxic chemicals by undermining its more precautionary approach to regulation," he said in a statement.

The EU parliament last July had issued a set of recommendations on the trade talks.

MEPs in the assembly demanded, among other things that the commission "fully respect[s] the established regulatory systems on both sides of the Atlantic."

But the groups in the letter to Schulz say the EU commission is set to ignore this as well.

They say the US will be granted early access to draft EU rules even before the EU parliament.

Such privileged access may enable the "US government to propose certain legislation or undermine existing proposals" before the formal regulatory process has even started.

The Health and Environment Alliance (Heal), an umbrella group of non-profits, warns the access is likely to increase US pressure to ease rules on things like hormone disrupting chemicals.

"In Europe we have banned over 80 pesticides, which are still legal in the US," said Heal's executive director Genon K.Jensen.

A third issue revolves around the EU commission plan to set up an investment court system that will allow companies to challenge governments for perceived profit loss.

The commission argues the court will be more transparent than the existing investor state dispute settlement.

The investor state dispute settlement is a system of arbitration contained in numerous trade treaties. It is often the chosen method of solving disputes.

But the groups say the new court proposal fails to respect the jurisdictions of courts of the EU and member states.

Earlier this year, German magistrates described the commission's court proposal as unlawful.

The commission, for its part, says it is unlikely an investor would even use its new court.

A commission spokesman told this website in February that the new court would not rule on member state law or EU.

"Hence the ICS [investment court system] in no way alters the established court system within the EU and the member states," he said.

Some 65 organisations signed the letter to Schulz.

Among them are Greenpeace, the Alliance for Cancer Prevention, and Friends of the Earth Europe.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

Greek austerity violated right to health, says watchdog

Cuts in the Greek health care system, following the austerity cuts demanded in return for international bailouts, have violated the European Social Charter on the right to health, says Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic.


Salvini is gambling with core voters' future in budget battle

Businesses in northern Italy are anxiously watching the standoff between the European Commission and the Italian government. They used to be the 'Northern League's' most important electorate - but the party's profile and priorities have changed.

EU commission eyes majority tax rules

The commission plans to address tax avoidance schemes in some EU states by shifting tax decisions away from unanimity to a majority system in what amounts to a long shot.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs


An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us