TTIP: Regulatory cooperation is the ultimate tool to prevent or weaken future public interest standards for citizens, workers, consumers, and the environment
Civil society groups denounce “regulatory cooperation” in the TTIP negotiations as a threat to democracy and an attempt to put the interests of big business before the protection of citizens, workers, and the environment.
February 2015 – Statement by civil society organisations on regulatory cooperation in TTIP.
We, the undersigned organisations, hereby express our deep concern about and our firm opposition to the direction of the TTIP negotiations regarding the regulation of vital areas, such as chemicals, food standards, public services, occupational health and safety, and financial regulation.
EU negotiators have claimed on a number of occasions that TTIP is not a threat to the laws and standards that protect us and the environment.
But the latest leaked European Commission position on the regulatory cooperation chapter of the TTIP negotiations has further heightened our concerns. The Commission proposes a system that can only result in further barriers to developing public interest standards as these would need to be ‘trade and investment’ proof. It also gives unprecedented influence to business lobby groups to stop any new regulation that would impact on trade and investment. The proposal strongly prioritises trade and investment over the public interest. The system would give enormous power to a small group of unelected officials to stop and weaken regulations and standards even before democratically elected bodies, such as parliaments, would have a say over them, thus undermining our democratic system.
The Commission calls for more «compatibility» between laws on both sides of the Atlantic and a “pro-competitive regulatory environment”. Compatibility is going to lead to «downward harmonisation», as demonstrated by a July 2014 report for the European Parliament.
The Commission text suggests that any new law would need to be justified by new facts or scientific evidence if requested by a company or government. The Commission proposal also reflects industry’s demand to create a Regulatory Cooperation Body to facilitate an early information system of consultations and influence over the development of new laws.
Furthermore, according to the Commission proposal, US and EU businesses would have a greater say on most laws in Brussels, in EU capitals, in Washington and in US states. The Commission seems to have largely conceded to the demand of business lobby groups to essentially co-write legislation.
The Commission proposals for regulatory cooperation carry the threat of lowering standards in the long and short term, on both sides of the Atlantic, at the state and member state/European levels. They constrain democratic decision-making by strengthening the influence of big business over regulation.
For instance, a January 2015 report by CIEL shows that regulatory cooperation is likely to further delay and even stall stronger protections from toxic chemicals and pesticides.
Regulatory cooperation could also constitute a gradual attack on the precautionary principle, slowly but widely opening doors to GMOs, nano-materials and endocrine disruptors.
For these reasons, we urge the negotiators to remove regulatory cooperation from the TTIP negotiations.