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By Luis Miranda, The Real Agenda
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Secrets of the TTIP negotiations Revealed

Monday, May 2, 2016 7:25
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Negotiations ignore the recent Paris agreement to reduce CO2 emissions and label high regulations on pesticides and GMOs as “barriers to trade”. Our suspicions have come true. United States is pressing European negotiators to significantly reduce regulation levels in some of the thorniest issues of the trade agreement known as the TTIP. A leak document, which we have gained access to, reveals the American position for the first time, on black and white. The document shows the enormous influence of European and American lobbies on the negotiators of the agreement. Basically, according to the leaked document, Washington is trying to modify the legislative process in the EU. In some of the most controversial issues related to the environment and health, the United States aims to reduce the standards of European regulation. The cosmetics industry and the use of pesticides in the agricultural industry are two of the most obvious examples. That is the US position in the negotiations on food, agriculture, trade barriers and environmental protection and health of consumers. Greenpeace Netherlands was handed a juicy document last April, just at the beginning of the last round of talks in New York. The draft, 248 pages long, provides substantial information on the European position and especially the US position, which has been kept secret until today at the express wish of the Administration of Barack Obama. In his recent visit to Europe, Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the need to accelerate negotiations. In view of the positions of both parties, the agreement will not be closed this year. The growing rejection in public opinion in several countries and even between government parties as the French Socialists or Austrian ultras, emphatic winners in the last election are examples of the great differences that are exhibited by the two negotiating teams. Although Europe has been very conciliatory in public, the text includes details on “very difficult discussions” on many issues, including those related to the cosmetics industry. In the United States authorities allow the use of animals in laboratory tests; Europe rejects such practices. The European side sees “a very limited ability to set a common position” about it. Obama and Merkel conspired to close the negotiations this year, but the document shows that this is only possible if Europe significantly lowers measures to ensure consumer protection and regulatory standards. Negotiating worse health and environmental issues is hard enough and if the current political mess is added to the mix, it is likely that lobbyists will have to battle much longer before reaching an agreement. In both Europe, mainly France and Germany, and the United States, political groups and their candidates are forcefully rejecting TTIP. The same thing happens in the US, where both liberals and conservatives have shown their opposition to both the TPP and the TTIP. In the political campaign, Donald Trump has been clear about his intention not to enter agreements that steal America’s right to decide for itself, while Bernie Sanders has also spoke in opposition to the corporate take-over. The two great critics in Europe have so far been the lack of transparency and the suspicions that the agreement may lead to a reduction of the normative standards of the Union. Two and a half years ago, at the beginning of the negotiations, Europe and the United States put the emphasis on the economic benefits of the agreement, describing how the TTIP would increase GDP and create tens of thousands of jobs. These benefits have been proven increasingly uncertain, which has forced both sides to find another narrative: the possibility that the TTIP allows the powers that sign the TTIP to dictate regulatory standards to the rest of the world. The leaked document makes clear the US position on the matter, with some surprising details: the European Commission considers that the US federal government is the only relevant Administration to set regulatory standards while Washington sets the European partners -the European Commission and national governments as such. The text also sheds some light on suspicions of lack of transparency. These are some of the most important aspects. In the document, there are continual references to consultations with big companies and employers, to the point that on sensitive issues such as agriculture and the chemical industry negotiators come to admit that they can not make a decision without consulting with industry. “The United States says that its position has to consult the rates on chemicals with the chemical industry,” says the document. Europe goes further: sometimes presents offers and counter offers “based on the joint position of European and American industries” in the agricultural negotiations. NGOs and trade unions have repeatedly complained that their access to the negotiators is much more limited. The document also reveals the creation of numerous committees, formed by officials, who in regulation may condition the ensuing discussion, according to Greenpeace. “The business sector has opportunities to participate in decision-making to intervene in the early stages of the process,” says the environmental organisation. The great value of the leaked document is that for the first time it makes clear the US position on key aspects of the agreement. Washington wants direct access to decision-making in Europe on the regulatory aspects. In European debates on the standardisation process regarding regulation, the US experts will dominate, “with no guarantee of reciprocity”. Washington insists again and again on confidentiality when sharing information from companies in all matters relating to chemicals. Overall, the […]

The post Secrets of the TTIP negotiations Revealed appeared first on The Real Agenda News.

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