Global Independent Analytics

TTIP leak: Scandalous or business as usual?

Documents shed unprecedented light on controversial agreement, which includes provisions to allow US companies to help change European law and weaken consumer protections

Andrew Griffin for Independent reports: EU officials are brushing off the disclosures as nothing more than business as usual, however. Greenpeace is warping the facts, said Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, the EU’s chief negotiator. “Some points that Greenpeace is making in these documents are flatly wrong,” he said at a Monday press conference.

The massive leak – which gives the first full insight into the negotiations – shows that the relationship between Europe and the US are weaker than had been thought and that major divisions remain on some of the agreement’s most central provisions.

The massive leak represents the first significant look at how the highly confidential talks on the deal are progressing.  The documents demonstrate that the U.S. will try and change European regulations regarding environment protection, consumer rights and other positions, critical to the EU citizens.

“For instance, the papers show that the US is looking to weaken the EU’s “precautionary principle” that governs how potentially harmful products are sold, Greenpeace says. The US has a much weaker regulation that aims to minimize rather than avoid risks, and that same less strict regime could come to the UK and Europe under the deal,” continues Griffin.

If the agreement remains intact, it would mean that both European and U.S. governments will be obliged to inform each other of any further changes; for example, if a European company would like to change any of the provision of the deal, the U.S. companies will also be free to do the same.

Moreover, the agreement lacks several crucial regulations such as global CO2 emission, the cuts to which have been agreed before. The advocates for the TTIP argue that although the negotiations have been kept in a total secret, the deal serves a sole purpose of supporting businesses both in the U and the U.S. Environmental and poverty campaigners have claimed that the already controversial deal might very well be undermined by the newly revealed information that affects well-being of every citizen.

"The TTIP negotiations will never survive this leak,” said John Hilary, the executive director of War on Want. “The only way that the European Commission has managed to keep the negotiations going so far is through complete secrecy as to the actual details of the deal under negotiation. Now we can see the details for ourselves, and they are truly shocking. This is surely the beginning of the end for this much-hated deal."

Other activists have stated that the only information available now came from the leak only, and the fact that such an essential agreement is persistently held in a secret could only worsen the situation.

“TTIP is being cooked up behind closed doors because when ordinary people find out about the threat it poses to democracy and consumer protections, they are of course opposed to it,” said Guy Taylor, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now. “It’s no secret that the negotiations have been on the increasingly shaky ground. Millions of people across Europe have signed petitions against TTIP, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to call for an end to the negotiations. These leaks should be seen as another nail in the coffin of a toxic trade deal that corporate power is unsuccessfully trying to impose on ordinary people and our democracies.”

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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