TTIP unfairhandelbar
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The transatlantic free trade agreement is a threat to the environment, humans and nature

Picture: Rudolf Ortner (pixelio.de)

The negotiation rounds between the US and the EU on the planned free trade agreement TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) are continuing and the lack of transparency within this process as well as the aggressive industrial lobbying on both sides of the Atlantic are still going on. For these reasons the question about the risk of a potential weakening of environmental and consumer standards in Europe and the US has to be asked over and over again.

How shall transatlantic trade be facilitated?

The negotiations have already stirred up concerns that through TTIP the regulations on both sides of the negotiation table could be alleviated and might lead to a harmonization of standards at the expense of the environment, humans and nature. An adjustment of standards can be equated with degradation. The negotiations are reaching into nearly all spheres: Financial markets, consumer protection, health, education, labour rights etc.

Substantial differences between the US and the EU exist for example for the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). In this case the EU makes use of the precautionary principle and decides on the basis of risk assessment which organisms are allowed to be launched on the European market - quite in contrast to the US. There it is generally assumed that GMOs are equal to non-GMOs. A harmonization of standards could open the European market for GMOs from the US.

The European chemical regulation REACH, implemented by the EU, assures that all chemicals allowed to the European market are registered with their security data. In the US, submitting security data is only necessary  in particular cases and chemicals that were launched on the market before 1976 don’t even have to pass any tests or to be registered.

Also the ‘chlorine chicken’ that has been the subject of many discussions in the media shows a potential problematic. Since 1997 chicken meat that is intended for human consumption is only allowed to be washed with water. In the US, chlorine (among other substances) is permitted to be added.

These exemplary cases show: If the negotiations will be successful in this sense, we will have to face serious consequences. Deregulation of financial derivatives, degradation of labour rights, genetically modified food on the European market, environmentally harmful fracking for raw material extraction, privatization of public services etc. With TTIP almost everything will be possible.

Investor protection or public welfare?

Apart from these risks, an increasing implementation of rights for investors to sue states can be observed, the so-called Investor-State Dispute Resolution (ISDR). Within this legal framework, investors are being enabled to sue states because of government measures that influence their investments in a negative way. These measures also include steps that follow legislative changes, for example to protect the environment. The threat of these investor rights consists in fact that the regulative power of states to act on behalf of common public interests is being restricted. This poses a concrete risk to democracy in exchange for a gain of power of large corporations. Public welfare and environmental protection are not being taken into consideration in such procedures.

 

Therefore we say: TTIP - No Thanks! This agreement shall not be negociated! Transatlantic partnership should be different!