Civil Society Raises Concerns about the US - EU Free Trade Agreement. Learn more here.
In June 2013, President Obama and the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council launched the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) -- an expansive trade pact between the U.S. and the European Union (EU).
Because tariffs between the U.S. and the EU are already low, this new trade pact will focus on removing "non-tariff barriers," or differences in U.S. and the EU environmental, food safety, chemical, and other standards. This means that critical public interest safeguards may be at risk. Here are some of the policies that may be impacted:
Climate protection: Many of the policies governments use to respond to the climate crises, such as energy efficiency standards or labels, could be considered non-tariff barriers to trade and could fall under the scope of the pact. TTIP must provide governments the flexibility to maintain and strengthen environmental and climate policies without constraints and without fear of trade litigation.
Food safety: Food and agricultural policies that may be up for negotiation in the TTIP include the EU’s bans on genetically modified goods, hormone-treated beef, and chlorine-washed poultry products. These regulations have been in place in the EU for years in order to protect EU consumers and must not be weakened through this pact.
Industrial chemical regulations: While Europe modernized its chemical laws in 2006, the United States continues to rely on an outdated policy from1976 to ensure the safety of chemical products. Some have singled out the EU’s more ambitious chemical safety regulations as a barrier to trade, rather than a policy to aspire to.
Other potential impacts of the trade pact include:
Unfettered rights to corporations. The TTIP may include provisions that give corporations the right to sue a government for unlimited cash compensation -- in private and non-transparent tribunals -- over nearly any law or regulation that a corporation alleges is hurting its expected future profits. Read more here about how harmful investment rules included in other trade pacts have led to the attack of climate and environmental policies.
Increase in dirty fracking. The TTIP may allow for significantly increased exports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. to the EU without the careful study or adequate protections necessary to safeguard the American public. This would mean an increase of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the dirty and violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations. It would also likely cause an increase in natural gas and electricity prices, impacting consumers, manufacturers, workers, and increasing the use of dirty coal power.
For more information, read the Sierra Club's report: The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement: What’s at Stake for Communities and the Environment.