Over the last two years SOLIDAR has been closely following the TTIP negotiations. We have voiced our concerns especially on the issue of public procurement and the agreement’s possible impact on social and public services in the EU.
The EU negotiation team has been trying to reassure civil society and the broader public that our European standards are safe and under no circumstances will have a trade agreement a negative impact on our European social welfare systems.
And yes, the European Commission has significantly increased transparency around the TTIP negotiations (debriefings after negotiation rounds, documents published on their homepage etc.). Nevertheless, the documents obtained and published today by Greenpeace Netherlands put these transparency efforts into another dimension by providing 248 pages of consolidated text to the wider public. So far, consolidated texts, i.e. the US position next to the EU position in one document, were only available in so-called Reading Rooms for MEPs in Brussels and at the national parliaments for MPs – without the possibility of making transcripts or notes and readers were sworn to full secrecy.
The documents published today show the remaining big discrepancies between US and EU ambitions towards this trade and investment deal. Without going into the specificities of single chapters, the simple comparison between EU and US offers in public procurement for example, shows that bargains and trade-offs will have to be made to achieve an agreement. The positions seem just too far removed from each other to agree on something at an equal level without major compromise. One side or the other has to compromise significantly – and that means giving up on standards and principles.
Another topic SOLIDAR has been following is Regulatory Cooperation. Here, the leaks show the huge impact a TTIP would have on our European, national and regional policy-making by opening up the whole legislative process to stakeholders on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Commission has been heavily promoting this agreement and downplaying concerns from NGOs and civil society as “unfounded and arbitrary”. We were invited to trust the European negotiators. Today’s leaks confirm our concerns that the conciliation and reassurance given by DG TRADE are not to be trusted and the negotiations indeed bear high risks for European standards: in the social field, in environmental issues and consumer affairs alike.
For SOLIDAR, it is no longer justifiable to pursue these negotiations in such manner. The coming change in the US Presidency cannot be an argument for speeding up the process. Do these leaks put the final nail in TTIP’s coffin or is there a chance to get an agreement under the conditions of safeguarding or improving our standards we have called and worked for over the last two years?