My reply to South West MEP Julie Girling’s email defending the principles of the Transatlantic trade and Investment Partnership

Dear Julie,

   Thank you for your swift reply, and the information you provided. However, many concerns still remain. I find it is disingenuous and duplicitous, on your part, to assert that you are passionate about protecting the NHS from privatisation, when knowing full well that TTIP will endeavour to open up government and public services contracts to private sector bidding. It becomes even more egregious when you, and Labour in their manifesto, declare intentions to ensure that the NHS is exempt from this provision. The vastness of the NHS as an employer and health service provider makes it a veritable gold mine for private enterprise, and there is no way the USA will allow it to be an exceptional case for protection from private sector bidding.
The barriers for for trade between the US and EU/UK are already low; TTIP isn’t a means to ‘remove obstacles’ to further capitalise on trading potential for the economic benefit of governments and their people, it is an assault on the regulations and practices that protect consumers from dangerous and poor quality edible and non-edible products. Why can’t America improve its standards, regulations, and practices in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, food, etc to the benefit of the consumer (by ensuring higher quality, and neutralising risk), rather than the EU being forced to relax its consumer protections to the detriment of health, safety, and quality under the guise of ‘harmonisation’?
This treaty is all about increasing the ability of, predominantly, American MNCs and TNCs to flood our market with their inferior, and less-rigorously-tested crap. It will disproportionately benefit the USA – in terms of increasing capital flow, and therefore government tax revenues – rather than the EU (if it benefits us at all.)
The chapter on ISDS is not even worth debating given the basic principles it is founded on. ISDS will transfer immense legal power to large corporations that will undermine democracy, and allow CEOs and business leaders to hold sway over public policy in all the constituent countries signed up to the TTIP pact.
The negotiations do not have to have been concluded before all of the above to be evident.
After reading the documents on the link you provided, I am still dumbfounded as to the necessity of this agreement with trade barriers already so low. Custom duties at an average of 2%, but I am now being asked to have sympathy for duties on carcinogenics being ‘prohibitively high’ at 350%?
I am more concerned with the impact on SMEs ( the backbone of our economy) who are going to be further marginalised and forced out of business due to the increased advantages that TTIP offers to big business.
I am even more concerned for the welfare of rank and file workers, and the vulnerable, small links in the supply chain (farmers, labourers, miners etc), as TTIP will deregulate and axe certain laws and practices, and relinquish important employment laws and rights that protect EU workforces. As a result, job insecurity unemployment will spike, and the forgotten labourers and farmers on the plantations and down the mines will be further exploited and even more inadequately remunerated. All of this, lamentably and outrageously, by design.
I also find the weak attempts to assuage concerns to be incredulous. To the charge that TTIP will ‘lower protections for consumers and the environment’, the factsheet on regulatory cooperation simply states:
“We will keep our high levels of protection. In a number of areas EU and US regulations provide similarly high levels of protection and could be compatible. In others, we will keep our different levels of protection”

The assurances are vague and also contradictory to the apparent aim of TTIP, which is to lower the trade barriers. Since tariffs are already at the floor, the only major obstacles are in differing degrees on regulation; by stipulating that some regulations are already compatible, and that those that aren’t will just be left as they are in their respective jurisdictions, means that those who are negotiating TTIP are either not very bright, or believe the we, the people, are not paying attention. For if no changes will be made to the regulations that differ too widely, then how does TTIP serve its proclaimed purpose? The creation of ‘Regulatory Cooperation Body’ also seems superfluous if, as the factsheet claims, TTIP will not alter the rules on how regulations are made.

I also have a problem with how the more detailed document tries to frame the present state of regulation in the US and EU market, as well as the positives of harmonisation. Most troubling is that the document tries reconcile its own invented paradox by stating that both the EU and USA have similarly sophisticated laws and regulations that offer a high degree of protection and safety to consumers and the environment. but yet years of negotiations negotiations are needed to achieve compatibility. In the first instance, the document propounds a blatant falsehood. American regulations on food, cosmetics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, GMOs are paltry compared to the truly advanced and stringent protections the EU affords its citizens. The EU operates on the ‘precautionary principle’, meaning that if their is any evidence of a product possessing a risk, or a potential to do harm,to a consumer, then it is declared unfit to be released to market. In the US, the onus is placed on regulators and standards authorities, rather than manufacturers, to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a product or foodstuff is potentially hazardous. For example, the US wants fewer regulations, and consumer protections in its chemicals industry.

The following is an excerpt from a report be Chemtrust:
“Over the last 15 years the European Union (EU) has begun to implement relatively stronger and more systematic policies. These provide a framework for replacing hazardous chemicals with safer, more innovative solutions (under REACH) as well as encourages new solutions for agricultural practices with less pesticides in the context of the sustainable use directive.”
And then they move onto the USA:
” In contrast, the US federal chemical regulatory system, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) dates from 1976 and very few chemicals have been regulated in the nearly 40 years since it came into force…Regarding pesticides, a recent CIEL report analysed the differences in the EU and US regulatory systems, including a table of 82 pesticides which are banned in the EU but not in the US.”
The report alsoprovides evidence to support the claim that regulatory harmonisation will dramatically lower the regulations and protections in the EU, rather than raise the US regulations to a level more compatible with the EU’s present system.
Not to mention that the US chemical industry has a long history of lobbying against the EU’s attempts to introduce new regulations on its chemicals; Colin Powell even sent a cable to US embassies around the world to ask them to talk to non-EU governments, using incorrect impact figures from a US Chemical Industry study. (and yet we are expected to believe that the USA will not push hard for a complete capitulation by the EU on its tight regulations that protect us, and our flora and fauna, from harmful chemicals.
When has America ever yielded to another on business and economic interests? All signs point to downward harmonisation, and a European land and population exposed to increased risk and danger.
The TTIP factsheet on the topic of regulation is far too nebulous, by design I surmise, and the promise to maintain protection of consumer and environment does not hold water. I would appreciate it, if you could provide more information on the regulatory harmonisation chapter of the proposed TTIP agreement, from the International Trade Committee, especially with regard to how the EU will safeguard protections on consumers and the environment.
Daniel Adshead

About johnny3wishbone

University of Bristol alum Follow me on Twitter @DanielAdshead25 A few of my favourite things: International development, human rights, justice, wildlife conservation, primates, politics, literature, music, catharsis, theatre, my fiance, history, environment, current events, writing, reading, running, fundraising, campaigning, activism, travel, Prague, Bristol, Mexican food
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