Regulatory cooperation is the ultimate tool to prevent or weaken future public interest standards for citizens, workers, consumers, and the environment. This is the key message from the statement signed by around 170 civil society organizations on regulatory cooperation in the negotiations on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a neo-liberal trade agreement) between the EU and the US.
The latest leaked European Commission position on the regulatory cooperation chapter of the TTIP negotiations has further heightened the concerns from all CSOs. 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 prioritizes 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.
Not only would regulatory cooperation erode democratic principles, it could also constitute a gradual attack on the precautionary principle, slowly but widely opening doors to GMOs, nanomaterials and endocrine disruptors . For these reasons, we urge the negotiators to remove regulatory cooperation from the TTIP negotiations.
The full statement can be found at (also in French, German, Greek and Spanish): http://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2015/02/statement-169-civil-society-organisations-regulatory-cooperation-eu-us