Race to the bottom Regulatory cooperation in TTIP: A blueprint for corporate domination?
The trade deal between the EU and USA is already weakening vital regulations in the EU while it is still in the process of being negotiated.
This briefing shows that while the proposed ‘regulatory cooperation’ in TTIP may sound bureaucratic or even benevolent, it actually amounts to a ‘blueprint for corporate domination,’ opening the door for countless controversial practices, from chickens washed in chlorinated water, through to the return of asbestos in certain products.
Most of the critical attention on TTIP has been on the threat to public services like the NHS, or the introduction of corporate courts carried out behind closed doors (ISDS). But it is the ‘regulatory cooperation’ at the heart of the deal that could have the biggest impact in terms of dramatically lowering or even removing vital regulations referring to the environment, food, farming or labour rights. Some of the corporate lobbyists pushing for TTIP have stated that it is the ‘regulatory cooperation’ rather than ISDS that is the most important aspect of the deal to them, while some supporters of TTIP have even gone as far as to advocate sacrificing ISDS to protect regulatory cooperation.
The briefing also examines documented instances where the threat or possibility of TTIP is already having harmful consequences for EU regulations, including:
- US officials successfully used the prospect of TTIP to bully the EU into abandoning plans to ban 31 dangerous pesticides with ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer and infertility.
- A similar situation with regulations around the treatment of beef with lactic acid. This was banned in Europe because of fears that the procedure was being used to conceal unhygienic practices. The ban was repealed by MEPs in the European Parliamentary Environment Public Health and Food Safety Committee after EU Commission officials openly suggested TTIP negotiations would be threatened if the ban wasn’t lifted.
- The European Fuel Quality Directive which would effectively ban Canadian tar sands oil foundered in the face of strong US-Canadian lobbying around both TTIP and the EU-Canada CETA deal.