EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

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Chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero (R) and chief US negotiator Dan Mullaney hold a press conference in Washington, DC after a new round of talks on creating a transatlantic free trade zone, 19 May. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Courtesy of Arthur Neslen @ The Guardian:

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive US lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On 26 June 2013, a high-level delegation from the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favour of a new impact study.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and US to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show.

The US trade representatives insisted that a risk-based approach be taken to regulation, and “emphasised the need for an impact assessment” instead.

On 2 July 2013, officials from the US Mission to Europe visited the EU to reinforce the message. Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.

“We suggest that as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals,” Day wrote. “We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances.” Continue reading

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TTIP: Why the EU-US Trade Deal Matters

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Courtesy of Andrew Walker @ BBC:

There’s one big issue for the new UK government that stayed below the radar during the election campaign – trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States, known as TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The big political parties didn’t make much of it during the campaign. Both the Conservatives and Labour are broadly in favour, though the Greens are very critical. TTIP was however addressed in the manifestos. War on Want (who oppose the plans) have compiled the parties’ positions on the issue.

Outside the political arena there are some very strong opinions. Many business voices are enthusiastic, but there is also very vocal opposition.

What is TTIP and what is it for?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or it will be if the negotiations are completed. The aim is to boost the economies of the EU and the US by removing or reducing barriers to trade and foreign investment.

President Obama said, when the talks were launched, that TTIP would promote “new growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic”. Critics reject that claim – more of that below. Continue reading

TTIP: Transatlantic Trade Deal Text Leaked to BBC

Which ever ist or ism you want to apply, it solidifies the power of a few. Courtesy of Glenn Campbell @ BBC Scotland:

A leaked draft of what the European Union wants excluded from a new trade deal with the United States has been obtained by the BBC.

The document describes itself as the EU’s “initial offer” in negotiations over the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).

It includes the wording that UK ministers have said will protect the NHS from privatisation.

Anti-TTIP campaigners say a specific exemption for the NHS is still needed.
The 103-page document is headed “trade in services and investment: schedule of specific commitments and reservations”.

It was produced before the most recent round of TTIP negotiations in Brussels were held at the beginning of this month.

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On health, the document states: “The EU reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with regard to the provision of all health services which receive public funding or State support in any form”.

The wording is the same as that used in a similar free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA).

The UK trade minister, Lord Livingston, said last week that this text ensured “publicly funded health services are excluded”.

The European Commission has also previously said TTIP would not affect how NHS services are provided, whether in Scotland or the rest of the UK.

But Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has called for the NHS to be specifically excluded from the deal. Continue reading

What is TTIP and why should we fight it?

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Courtesy of Young Greens:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in the US and EU between governments and corporations presents an unprecedented threat not only to food, labour and environmental standards but to democracy itself.

TTIP is a proposed ‘free trade’ agreement between the US and the EU. The negotiations around it are shrouded in secrecy, but the information that has been forced out shows that if successful, the agreement would lead to deregulation of what we eat, how we work, and increase the power that large corporations hold over national governments. TTIP is designed to benefit these corporations: the removal of tariffs and regulatory ‘barriers’ to trade and labour would allow them to maximise their profits, at the cost of workers and consumers. All reasons why Greens in both the UK and across Europe oppose this bosses’ charter.

The Center for Food Safety has already raised concerns about the potential for TTIP to establish a Regulatory Cooperation Council, which could result in ‘harmonisation’ of safety standards, meaning that food not meeting EU standards could be sold here anyway. Such products include chemically washed poultry, livestock treated with growth hormones, and genetically modified crops. These are allowed in the US, which adopts a ‘cost-benefit’ approach to food safety, balancing the interests of corporations against the safety of consumers, as opposed to the ‘precautionary principle’ used in the EU. A lobbyist for the US Council for International Business has admitted that ‘getting rid of the precautionary principle’ is a key aim of TTIP negotiations. Furthermore, such deregulation would apply not only to goods but to labour, allowing business to relocate to places – such as the US – where working standards are lower. This would result in huge job losses in Europe. Continue reading

How the EU is making NHS privatisation permanent

The NHS is being privatised under the illusion that competition breeds efficiency. What many fail to understand is that the NHS is a monopsony. A monopsony, through its large size passes on savings and cost efficiencies to the patients. Under the guise and instruction of corporations, from Serco, Virgin and private American health care corps they will gut the NHS. Quality of service will go down, jobs will be lost, costs go up and all in aid of private profit which will go up, up and up.

Regardless of what the propaganda in the media betrays, (shame on the BBC for selling us out) the NHS, although not perfect, is one of the best health care systems in the world with many outstanding, dedicated and unsung staff. What our grandparents and parents paid for through their taxes, is being sold off. By an extension of this government action we are all being sold off, welcome to corporate fascism.

What is even more pernicious is TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which harmonises the EU, UK and US. This agreement will allow corporations to sue governments for loss of future earnings, regardless if they kill 10,000 patients through neglect or incompetence. It will put corporations above governments. That’s right, corporations will have more power than governments and the NHS will be privatised for good.

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We are sliding into a society where corporations rule, who do you think are pushing these rules through? Corporations are and for who’s benefit? Ours? Nope, for theirs and at who’s expense? Ours. Does not make sense.

All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing (Edmond Burke)

Cognitive dissonance and apathy are no excuse. Do we not all not have a responsibility to hand over an earth/country/economy in better shape than what we received? Through our very own inaction, we are selling our children and their children and their children into corporate slavery.

Next time you look at your child, niece or nephew, ask yourself this one question; could I willingly and knowingly sell another human into slavery. If the answer is no, make your stand. If you answer yes, you should immediately go and boil your head, post-haste.

Do not think that it would be different under labour or Lib Dem, it won’t because whoever is in charge still takes their orders from the Square Mile. The system is the problem and it is this we need to change! We have political parties to give the illusion of choice. There is no choice. It is easy to blame the EU but it’s our supposed elected leaders who are complicit in all this. Yes our MEP’s are not doing their job but we are consistently and indiscriminately let down by those we put our trust in, MPs, media, corporations, education, councillors et al. Shocking is one word to use.

Those that make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable (JFK)

Courtesy of Benedict Cooper @ The New Statesman:

No doubt the launch of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in June was cause for much celebration in Brussels. The European Parliament is in the process of enabling a historic shift in world economics with countless, far-reaching consequences.

A key part of the TTIP is ‘harmonisation’ between EU and US regulation, especially for regulation in the process of being formulated. In Britain, the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act has been prepared in the same vein – to ‘harmonise’ the UK with the US health system.

This will open the floodgates for private healthcare providers that have made dizzying levels of profits from healthcare in the United States, while lobbying furiously against any attempts by President Obama to provide free care for people living in poverty. With the help of the Conservative government and soon the EU, these companies will soon be let loose, freed to do the same in Britain. Continue reading