Groups Oppose Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)
Proposed Plans for U.S./E.U. Trade Deal Would Weaken Health, Consumer, Worker, Environmental Protections
May 12, 2014 | Download PDF
Ambassador Michael Froman
United States Trade Representative
Executive Office of the President
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508
Commissioner Karel de Gucht
Commissioner for Trade European Commission
Dear Ambassador Michael Froman and Commissioner Karel De Gucht:
The undersigned organizations are writing to express our deep concerns about proposals for “regulatory cooperation” between the United States and European Union under the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, otherwise known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement or TAFTA). [The term “regulatory cooperation” is meant to include “regulatory coherence” and “regulatory convergence.” “Regulatory Coherence” is used in reference to the proposed horizontal chapter with this title, or the EU’s position paper on this horizontal chapter, referenced below.]
The vast majority of estimates for TTIP’s economic benefits are hypothesized to come from tackling “non-tariff” or “technical barriers” to trade. These perceived barriers are also the laws that protect people, the environment, and the integrity of our respective economies. The EU and the U.S. acknowledge that reducing these costs to industry is one of the most important and most challenging aspects of these trade negotiations.
Thus, TTIP is more about how national or regional laws and policies are made, rather than international trade in its traditional sense.
To achieve this ambitious goal, EU and U.S. negotiators are discussing various proposals for Trans-Atlantic regulatory cooperation behind closed doors. The recent leak of an EU position paper on “regulatory coherence” provided much-needed insight into how negotiators hope to avoid future “non-tariff” and “technical barriers” to trade. While it is unclear precisely what form such “cooperation” would take, we understand that the proposals would entail several changes to EU and U.S. lawmaking processes. We note that we do not have adequate information from the United States to fully assess its position and the possible implications of their proposals.
The scope of these changes would cover “any planned and existing regulatory measures of general application” and “extend to regulations by US States and EU Member States.” Some of the key elements include:
Updates on “any regulatory and legislative initiatives with potential trade impact as of the planning stage”;
The use of “harmonization, recognition of equivalence, or mutual recognition” as tools for regulatory cooperation;
The use of “cost-benefit” and “trade impact” analyses for proposed regulatory or legislative initiatives, with a special focus on international trade impacts, to be published with the proposed final measure;
A requirement for “regulatory dialogues,” with trans-Atlantic governments;
The creation of a trans-Atlantic scientific body to guide regulatory decision making; and
The right of stakeholders to table “substantive joint submissions” for this body to consider.
To oversee these elements, the EU has proposed the creation of a Trans-Atlantic institutional framework, the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC), consisting of representatives from selected regulatory bodies in the U.S. and EU. The council would oversee the development and implementation of laws in the EU and U.S., including:
U.S. federal legislation, introduced by members of the U.S. Congress;
State-level legislation introduced by state legislators;
Rules and regulations proposed by U.S. federal agencies, U.S. independent agencies, and state-level agencies;
EU primary legislation;
EU implementing measures; and
Legislation at the EU Member State level, including relevant implementing measures.
We are concerned that these procedures could easily facilitate a roll-back of protection provided by existing legislation, and that they would likely impede the development of new legislation and the implementation of what currently exists. Implementation is the key for legislation at any level of government, including the precautionary principle and other important public safeguards.
The top-down coordination of these measures through an institutional framework for transatlantic regulatory cooperation, we feel, would likely become a significant source of delay and preempt a state, a country, or region’s ability to maintain or establish stronger standards when consumers demand such or to respond to emerging technologies, new scientific information, preferred policies by the public, and urgent crises. One of our main concerns is that regulatory cooperation as suggested by trade negotiators will allow business groups and their lobbyists to exert undue influence in the regulatory process.
With an objective to prevent transatlantic regulatory divergence and minimize impacts to international trade, the preemptive power and influence of this institutional framework for regulatory cooperation is of particular concern. As proposed, this body is designed to prioritize potential trade impacts over other factors in decision making. Even without a focus on trade-related impacts, cost-benefit analysis can produce unreliable results and may be heavily tilted against the public interest. Proposals to add yet more layers of analysis and governance to the rulemaking process will increase delays and will impede achieving the central mission of most regulators: to protect the public and the environment.
Accordingly, we are deeply concerned that TTIP will have a chilling effect on the development and implementation of laws to protect people and the environment. We note your stated objective to protect the “right” to regulate and to preserve existing standards; however, the procedural recommendations advanced could undercut both of these stated objectives.
Therefore, we ask that you (1) publish draft negotiating texts on regulatory cooperation and coherence, sectoral annexes, and SPS/TBT chapters, as well as and the most recent position papers from the EU and U.S., given their direct relevance to lawmaking in the United States and the European Union, including by states and Member States, respectively; and (2) answer the following eight questions:
1) What exactly has been discussed and/or agreed upon between EU and US negotiators on regulatory cooperation?
2) How do you plan to prevent regulatory cooperation provisions in TTIP from slowing the implementation of existing laws? Proposals indicate extensive regulatory dialogues throughout several stages of regulatory processes on both sides of the Atlantic, with the production and exchange of information on alternative options and impacts, including written responses.
3) How do you plan to prevent regulatory cooperation provisions from being an impediment to the development of new legislation? It is proposed that Parties would inform each other of legislative initiatives at an early stage, engage in Trans-Atlantic dialogues during the lawmaking process, and assess impacts to international and transatlantic trade.
4) How would these regulatory cooperation provisions apply to states in the United States and Member States in the European Union?
5) How do you plan to make the proposed RCC, or another Trans-Atlantic institutional framework for regulatory cooperation, accountable and transparent?
6) How would trade impact or cost-benefit analyses account for both the quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits of prompt and progressive regulatory action, such as the benefits of protecting human health by reducing exposure to toxic chemicals and the benefits of ensuring the stability of our financial systems?
7) Are there any plans to prevent dominance of interested business groups in, for example, the sectoral dialogues, or is the proposal intended solely as a platform for a transatlantic business dialogue?
8) Will the proposed changes to lawmaking in the EU or U.S. be subject to international dispute resolution or provide a valid legal basis for lawsuits in either the EU or U.S. challenging the legality of adopted legislation or regulation?
The answers to these questions will help us better understand the procedural and substantive questions voiced by the public on both sides of the Atlantic as a consequence of leaked documents drafted by government and industry over the past several months. The public, including lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic and at all levels of government, have the right to know.
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Medical Student Association
Americans for Financial Reform
Breast Cancer Fund
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Effective Government
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Food Safety
Center for Responsible Lending
Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists
Center of Concern
Chicago Consumer Coalition
Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
Citizens Trade Campaign
Clean and Healthy Indiana
Clean and Healthy New York
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Action (CT)
Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT
Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County (NM)
Consumer Assistance Council, Inc.
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Federation of the Southeast
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Economic Policy Institute
Farm Workers Association of Florida (FWAF)
Farmworker Association of Florida
Food & Water Watch
Friends of the Earth, US
Global Community Monitor Global Exchange
Health Care Without Harm
Humane Society International
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
International Campaign for Responsible Technology
International Center for Technology Assessment
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Just Foreign Policy
Just Transition Alliance
League of Conservation Voters
Los Jardines Institute (The Gardens Institute)
Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Mossville Environmental Action Now
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Family Farm Coalition
National Legislative Association on Prescription
Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ
Oregon Consumer League
Parents Against Lindane
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Safer Chemicals Healthy Families
Southwest Workers Union
TEDX, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.e.j.a.s )
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness
Women’s Voices for the Earth
World Society for the Protection of Animals
Academia Civica Bihor
Action For Breast Cancer Foundation
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network
Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft
Association for Self Advocacy
Berliner Wassertisch/Muskauer Straße
BI lebenswertes Korbach e.V.
Bundoran Transition Towns
Bürgerinitiative “Kein CO2-Endlager Altmark”
Central America Women’s Network
CENTRE FOR PEACE STUDIES
Clean Air Action Group
Collectif Causse Méjean – Gaz de Schiste NON !
Collectifs Isérois Stop GHRM38
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
Danish Ecological Council
Earth Watch Media
Ecologistas en Acción
Environmental Health Strategy Center
European Attac Network
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS)
European Federation of Public Service Unions
European Public Health Alliance
Food & Water Europe
Frack Free Romania
Fracking Free Ireland
Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE)
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Fundacion Vivo Sano
German NGO Forum on Environment and Development
GLOBAL 2000 Friends of the Earth-Austria
Global Social Justice
Grupo Portugal TTIP
Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH)
IG Übersetzerinnen Übersetzer
Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association (IDEA)
Keep Ireland Fracking Free
Minea Marius Sorin
NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union)
narcisa florentina arsinte
ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria
PROVIEH VgtM e.V.
Quercus – National Association for Nature Conservation
Réseau Environnement Santé
Romania Fara Ei (Romania Without Them)
Scottish Environment LINK
Scottish Wild Land Group
Seeds Action Network – SAN Germany
The Cancer Prevention and Education Society
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Transparency International Germany
Transport & Environment
WECF – Women in Europe for a Common Future
WEED – World Economy, Ecology & Development
WWF European Policy Office
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Environmental Investigation Agency
Other International Organizations
BRAZILIAN RESEARCH NETWORK IN NANOTECHNOLOGY, SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT
ES ASSOCIAÇÃO – ENERGIA SUSTENTÁVEL
Sivil Toplum Dayanışma Derneği