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TTIP documents confirm major risks for environment, consumer safety

ttipleaks-live-BOSGreenpeace Netherlands is releasing a package of leaked TTIP negotiation texts to provide much-needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on a treaty threatening to have far-reaching implications for the environment and the lives of almost a billion citizens in the EU and US. This is the first time the public will have the chance to compare the EU and US negotiating positions.




May 2, 2016 | Greenpeace Netherlands

Leaked TTIP documents confirm major risks for climate, environment and consumer safety

Press release by Greenpeace - 1 May, 2016.

For access to the leaked documents, go here: ttip-leaks.org.

Amsterdam, 1 May 2016 - Greenpeace Netherlands is releasing a package of leaked TTIP negotiation texts on Monday morning, at 11am CET, to provide much-needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on a treaty threatening to have far-reaching implications for the environment and the lives of almost a billion citizens in the EU and US. This is the first time the public will have the chance to compare the EU and US negotiating positions.

“It is time to shine a light on these negotiations. Hard won environmental progress is being bartered away behind closed doors. These documents reveal that civil society was right to be concerned about TTIP. We should stop the negotiations and start the debate”, said Faiza Oulahsen, campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands. “The complete and most recent version of the treaty text should be released at once, so that citizens and elected representatives have the chance to understand what is being proposed in their names.”

From an environmental and consumer protection point of view four aspects are of serious concern:

Long standing environmental protections appear to be dropped

None of the chapters we have seen reference the General Exceptions rule. This nearly 70-year-old rule enshrined in the GATT agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), allows nations to regulate trade “to protect human, animal and plant life or health" or for "the conservation of exhaustible natural resources" [1]. The omission of this regulation suggests both sides are creating a regime that places profit ahead of human, animal and plant life and health.

Climate protection will be harder under TTIP

The Paris Climate Agreement makes one point clear: We must keep temperature increase under 1.5 degrees to avoid a climate crisis with effects on billions of people worldwide. Trade should not be excluded from climate action. But nothing indicating climate protection can be found in the obtained texts. Even worse, the scope for mitigation measures is limited by provisions of the chapters on Regulatory Cooperation or Market Access for Industrial Goods. [2] As an example these proposals would rule out regulating the import of CO2 intensive fuels such as oil from Tar Sands.

The end of the precautionary principle

The precautionary principle, enshrined in the EU Treaty[3], is not mentioned in the chapter on Regulatory Cooperation, nor in any other of the obtained 12 chapters. On the other hand the US demand for a ‘risk based’ approach that aims to manage hazardous substances rather than avoid them, finds its way into various chapters. This approach undermines the ability of regulators to take preventive measures, for example regarding controversial substances like hormone disrupting chemicals.

Opening the door for corporate takeover

While the proposals threaten environmental and consumer protection, big business gets what it wants. Opportunities to participate in decision making are granted to corporations to intervene at the earliest stages of the decision making process.

While civil society has had little access to the negotiations, there are many instances where the papers show that industry has been granted a privileged voice in important decisions. [4] The leaked documents indicate that the EU has not been open about the high degree of industry influence. The EU’s recent public report [5] has only one minor mention of industry input, whereas the leaked documents repeatedly talk about the need for further consultations with industry and explicitly mention how industry input has been collected.

Oulahsen: “Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of democratic power from people to big business. We call on all elected representative and other concerned parties to read these documents and engage in the debate.”

The documents run to 248 pages of complex legal language (13 consolidated TTIP chapters + Note - Tactical State of Play of TTIP Negotiations – March 2016). Greenpeace Netherlands worked together on this with the renowned German research network of NDR, WDR and Süddeutscher Zeitung. Until now elected representatives were only able to view such documents under guard, in a secure room, without access to expert consultation, while being forbidden from discussing the content with anyone else. By publishing these documents Greenpeace is giving millions of concerned citizens the chance to oversee their government’s activities and to discuss these with their elected representatives.

NOTES 

[1] Most of the WTO's agreements were the outcome of the 1986-94 Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. Some, including GATT 1994, were revisions of texts that previously existed.

[2] Nothing in the relevant Articles 10 (Import and Export Restrictions) and 12 (Import and Export Licensing) of the Chapter on National Treatment and Market Access for Goods shows that necessary trade related measures to protect the climate would be allowed as a trade restriction under GATT Article XX (see footnote 1).   

[3] “The precautionary principle is detailed in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU). It aims at ensuring a higher level of environmental protection through preventative decision-taking in the case of risk. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Al32042

[4] e.g. “While the US showed an interest, it hastened to point out that it would need to consult with its industry regarding some of the products” – Chapter ‘Tactical State of Play’, paragraph 1.1, Agriculture.

[5] ‘The Twelfth Round of Negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)’ http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2016/march/tradoc_154391.pdf

 

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