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TTIP talks re-start, and threaten our protection from hazardous chemicals

Today, Monday 22nd February, the 12th negotiation round on the EU-US Transatlantic Investment Partnership (TTIP) is starting in Brussels. CHEM Trust remains very concerned about the proposals within TTIP for ‘regulatory co-operation’, which we consider have the potential to delay or undermine protection of wildlife and people from hazardous chemicals.

The EU Commission made it clear in their press release last week that these negotiations will be particularly focussed on regulatory co-operation:

This round marks the beginning of an intensified period in these talks. The negotiators will discuss all three pillars of TTIP: market access for EU and US firms, regulatory cooperation, and rules of trade. Regulatory cooperation will be at forefront of the discussions as both sides are preparing to exchange new textual proposals…”

CHEM Trust´s has repeatedly voiced reservations regarding the idea of a new regulatory co-operation process, where the US and EU will discuss regulations on issues such as chemicals. Our main concerns are that regulatory cooperation in TTIP could:

  1. Slow down the implementation of existing laws
  2. Decrease the level of protection by bringing EU and US regulations into aligment
  3. Prevent or delay measures needed to protect human health and environment

In a recent presentation at a webinar on “Regulatory Cooperation and chemicals policy” organised by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) we gave specific examples from the EU chemicals law REACH, the EU pesticides law and the delayed regulation on hormone disrupting chemicals.

In CHEM Trust’s view the reassurances that have been given by the negotiators are not convincing, given the differences in EU and US approaches to regulation, and the pressure that TTIP will create towards coordination and harmonisation.

The track record of transatlantic regulatory cooperation includes many examples which have caused negative impact on public interest regulation in the public interest, for example see the recent CEO report “Dangerous regulatory duet“.

CHEM Trust’s view is backed by the Consumer voice in Europe, BEUC, who stated in their recent paper “The incompatible chemistry between the EU and US:

Regrettably, the negotiating parties have so far failed to deliver a bold, ambitious vision for transatlantic cooperation on chemicals that would bring real benefits to consumers and the environment.”

Ninja Reineke, Senior Policy Advisor at CHEM Trust said:

“We see no sign that regulatory co-operation under TTIP would improve the protection of public health and the environment from hazardous chemicals. At the moment everything points to a weakening of regulation, not the strengthening that is needed both in the EU and US.”