Wednesday

23rd May 2018

TTIP leaks: US undermining EU standards, says Greenpeace

  • Opposition to TTIP is likely to mount even further given the US position (Photo: Greens EFA)

The US is pressuring the EU to roll back environmental and health standards as part of a free trade deal, according to confidential documents obtained by Greenpeace.

"We have known that the EU position was bad, now we see the US position is even worse," said Jorgo Riss, director of Greenpeace EU, in a statement on Sunday (1 May).

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EU negotiators and their US counterparts concluded their latest round of talks on the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) last week in New York.

Both sides hope to wrap up the deal before the end of year, and before US president Barack Obama leaves offices.

But there are outstanding issues between the two sides, and public backing for the deal has plummeted.

While the EU makes public its positions, the US has kept almost everyone in the dark.

But Greenpeace Netherlands is set to publish on Monday some 248 pages of leaked documents on the trade deal that reveal the US side of talks.

The NGO says the documents reveal how the US is attempting to weaken environmental protection standards and allow greater corporate influence in the decision-making process.

"It would lead to European laws being judged on their consequences for trade and investment – disregarding environmental protection and public health concerns," said Riss.

Several medias, including Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and ARD public broadcaster, which had obtained advanced copies of the leaks, reported on Sunday that the US was trying to force Europe to buy more US agricultural products by threatening to make it more difficult to export European cars.

The US also wants to keep the current arbitration system that allows corporations to sue governments for perceived loss of profits.

The EU had a proposed a similar but more transparent and public scheme, which Washington rejected, according to the German media outlets.

There are some 51,000 US-owned subsidiaries operating in the EU.

Around 47,000 of them would be empowered to launch attacks on European policies in international tribunals, according to War on Want, a London-based anti-poverty charity.

German magistrates in February had also declared the new version of the investor court system (ICS), proposed by the EU, as unlawful.

The EU commission, for its part, maintains the ICS does not rule on member state or EU law and is not a threat.

Public opposition

Some 1,600 cities, municipalities, and regions across Europe have already declared themselves TTIP-free zones. Most are found in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

And earlier this month, a YouGov survey suggested German public support for TTIP had fallen from 55 percent two years ago to 17 percent.

The poll came out before tens of thousands of people in Germany's city of Hannover marched against the deal during a major international trade fair, attended by Obama.

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