Whats the secret? Closed door U.S.-EU trade talks put environmental and public health safeguards at risk
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United States and the European Union opened the fifth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which are scheduled to run through Friday, May 23. The negotiations will be held in secret, and the negotiating text is hidden from the press and public. But, approximately 600 “cleared advisors” to the United States, mostly corporate lobbyists, have access to the text and negotiators.
Because tariffs are already quite low on both sides of the Atlantic, it unfortunately appears that TTIP negotiations will focus on lowering regulatory “barriers” to transatlantic trade and investment. Such “barriers” include environmental and public health protections — such as those related to food safety, genetically-engineered organisms, and toxic chemicals, among many others. In the alleged interest of making trade easier, environmental and public health safeguards are put at risk.
Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, released a statement today saying, “These negotiations have the potential to impact upon every aspect of life for citizens here and in the U.S., from food or chemical safety to the environment. The European Commission cannot continue to remain deaf to civil society calls for transparency — people have the right to know what’s at stake.” Friends of the Earth Europe — on behalf of 257 organization around the globe — released today in Brussels a joint civil society call for TTIP transparency to EU Commissioner De Gucht.
Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S., which signed the call for TTIP transparency, had this to say about the coming week of TTIP negotiations: “It’s amazing that the longest living democracies in Europe and the United States cannot negotiate in public. Why keep these negotiations secret? Why do corporate lobbyists have privileged access to negotiators and text and not the public?”