Thursday

20th Jul 2017

EU 'will not compromise' on food safety in US trade pact

  • The US poultry industry is lobbying to export bleached chicken into the EU (Photo: dawvon)

A top EU official has sought to allay German fears about the US being able to export bleached chicken and hormone beef to Europe once a free trade pact comes into force.

"What is non-negotiable are food safety standards. Hormones are prohibited, there is a strict regime of genetically modified organisms and this is not going to go away," Ignacio Garcia Bercero, EU's chief negotiator on the "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" with the US told journalists in Berlin on Tuesday (11 February).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said the EU's strict regime for control of chemical substances would also not be altered, as "mutual recognition" of safety standards only applies when the standards are "compatible."

A recent report aired on Germany’s public TV broadcaster ARD cited efforts by US lobbyists to circumvent existing EU bans on bleached chicken or hormone beef.

But Bercero said talks with the US officials are "professional" and that it is only natural for US firms to defend their interests.

"There are certain German views that our values are going to be compromised. No way this is going to happen," he said.

NGOs scrutinising the EU-US talks are sceptical about his reassurances, however.

"We know the corporate wishlists for the talks, which mention all the points that the [European] Commission is now calling red lines - from chlorinated chicken to GMOs," says Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory.

She noted that several US congressmen have said they are not going to approve a deal that does not open more market access for American agribusiness, "including through getting rid of certain food safety standards."

"The EU also has offensive interests in the talks. How will they get them through if they are not going to give in on any of the red lines? These are two-way negotiations, not a one way street," Eberhardt told this website.

In a press release issued last year when the trade talks were first announced, the US Poultry Groups - an umbrella lobby organisation for poultry meat producers - said the US trade ambassador Ron Kirk, who leads the negotiations on the American side, had "listened to and accepted recommendations that agriculture and unwarranted non-tariff barriers, especially non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary provisions, be an important part of the negotiations and that any final trade agreement successfully address these issues.”

US poultry producers have fewer sanitary demands on conditions for chicken, because once the chickens are slaughtered, they are dipped in a bleaching solution which kills all germs and bacteria. The EU has banned imports of this kind of meat.

“The result of this non-science-based action is that the United States has not been able to export poultry to the EU since 1997. When TTIP negotiations are successfully concluded, US poultry producers look forward to marketing over $500 million of products to the EU on an annual basis,” the US Poultry Groups said.

Transparency

Bercero also tried to sooth concerns on transparency in the negotiations.

He said the EU commission has been "fully transparent" from the very beginning and that the European Parliament is briefed before and after each round of negotiations. He added that the commission has appointed a "balanced" advisory group comprising seven business representatives and seven members of civil society - trade unions and NGOs.

But French Green MEP Yannick Jadot, who sits on the trade committee, said access to documents remains a problem, with only a handful of MEPs allowed to see “restricted texts."

"It is unclear if other interested EP committees and/or the advisory group will get access to restricted documents and negotiating texts, which are the most important documents," he told this website.

Jadot also noted that US position papers are under wraps, even for officials in the EU Council, which advises member states.

"It is not accurate to talk about improved transparency and this remains a major concern," he concluded.

Pia Eberhardt of Corporate Europe Observatory said that without disclosure of negotiation texts, "it is almost impossible to provide appropriate feedback for the very proposals that will affect the general public the most."

As for the “advisory group,” Eberhardt said it is "a thinly disguised public relations exercise by the commission to signal openness where there is secrecy and to signal interest in issues such as environmental protection where in fact all it cares about is the hard-core market opening agenda of European business."

A freedom of information request on the meetings held by the EU commission's trade unit since February 2013 shows that of roughly 120 meetings, most were with large corporations and their lobbyists and only a handful with trade unions and consumer groups.

GMO maize vote highlights 'absurd' EU rules

The EU commission is set to authorise the cultivation of a genetically modified maize crop, despite opposition from 19 countries: Critics say it showcases "absurd" EU voting rules.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  2. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  3. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  4. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  5. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  6. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  7. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  8. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  2. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  3. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  5. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  6. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  7. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  8. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  9. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices
  11. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  12. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law