Leak Could Mean Doom for US-EU Trade Deal

     (CN) – The independence and political process of European Union members could be severely affected if a trade agreement between the United States and the EU is implemented, according to details of the proposed agreement leaked Monday by Greenpeace Netherlands.
     The group published over 240 pages of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a controversial trade deal between the EU and the United States.
     The TTIP would give U.S. corporations a prominent voice in various legal matters in EU member states, such as laws regarding environmentally risky produce, health care practices and labor matters.
     “These documents make clear the scale and scope of the trade citizens of the U.S. and the EU are being asked to make in pursuit of corporate profits,” Sylvia Borren, executive director of Greenpeace, said in a statement released by the group. “It is time for the negotiations to stop, and the debate to begin.”
     The group says that the documents were authenticated by an independent research team comprised of German media outlets Rechercheverbund NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.
     Concerns have been raised over the TTIP’s lack of resolutions to environmental concerns, given that a record-breaking 175 nations signed the Paris Climate agreement on April 22 in New York.
     The group specifically referenced the absence of the General Exceptions rule from the chapters it reviewed. The rule — created in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and enacted in 1948 — was designed to help nations with “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources” and the general preservation of the environment and protection for animal and human life.
     The rule was also included in the revision to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1994.
     “The omission of this regulation suggests both sides are creating a regime that places profit ahead of human, animal and plant life and health,” Greenpeace Netherlands said.
     It is unclear what the final version of the TTIP will look like, or whether an agreement will ultimately be reached given the leak.
     “Now that we can see the actual texts, the EU negotiators have nowhere left to hide. The gloves are off, and they know they are in for a proper fight,” John Henry, director of British nonprofit War on Want, told The Independent.
     The U.S. Trade Representative’s office questioned the validity of the leaked documents, according to Reuters.
     Cecilia Malmstrom, trade minister with the European Commission, said in a blog post that the documents merely reflect each side’s negotiating position.
     “There are areas in the TTIP negotiations where we have come a long way, but in others we are simply not in agreement,” Malmstrom said. “It is normal that both parties in a negotiation want to achieve as many of their own objectives as possible. In areas where we are too far apart in a negotiation, we simply will not agree. In that sense, many of today’s alarmist headlines are a storm in a teacup.”
     One such sticking point seems to be regarding the EU’s “precautionary principle”, which determines how potentially harmful products are sold. Member states are much stricter about genetically modified organisms and other aspects of food production that the United States, which generally tries to minimize risks as opposed to fully avoiding them.
     “The U.S. demand for a ‘risk-based’ approach that aims to manage hazardous substances rather than avoid them finds its way into various chapters. This approach undermines the ability of regulators to take preventative measures,” Greenpeace Netherlands said in its statement.
     The U.S. stance on GMOs and hormone-disrupting chemicals could be adopted by EU member states under the TTIP.
     The TTIP would establish the world’s largest free-trade arena, despite overwhelming disapproval from Americans and Europeans and attempts to keep details of the agreement secret.
     A recent poll showed that only 18 percent of American surveyed supported the TTIP. Pollsters at YouGov found that only 17 percent of Germans were in favor of the trade agreement.
     “The complete and most recent version of the treaty text should be released at once, so that citizens and elected representatives have the chance to understand what is being proposed in their names,” Faiza Oulahsen, a campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands, said in a statement Sunday.

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