[Updated on 10th March on the publication of the EAC report – see below]
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of the UK House of Commons is currently doing an inquiry into the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its impacts on the environment and the developing world. Yesterday they published the evidence that had been submitted to this inquiry, including a submission from CHEM Trust.
The main points we made in our submission were:
- Our strong belief that the inclusion of chemicals within TTIP will lower protection in the EU, and will further slow down efforts to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals.
- We are very concerned that the US government has a long history of lobbying against EU action on chemicals, and that TTIP could provide a method for them to institutionalise this.
- The US approach to chemicals regulation is generally acknowledged to be out-dated and ineffective, while the European approach is being copied by other jurisdictions, for example China and South Korean.
- Given the differences between the two regulatory approaches, and the inability of the US to strengthen its regulations, it seems most likely that any regulatory harmonisation would lead to reduced protection in the EU.
- There are already a number of international processes which facilitate collaboration on chemicals, including OECD and three International Conventions – though the US is still not a party to these conventions.
The full list of written evidence received is available on the EAC web site.
NB: It’s worth noting that TTIP doesn’t only threaten European regulation of chemicals, it could also stop individual US states bringing in more effective rules than those at federal level.
Update, 4th February – Joint Statement against regulatory co-operation in TTIP
CHEM Trust and around 150 other civil society groups have signed up to a Joint Statement against regulatory co-operation in TTIP.
Update, 10th March – EAC Committee publishes its report
Today the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee have published their report on TTIP, which includes a recommendation against including chemicals in TTIP:
16. The EU and US have some environmental standards which deliver similar safeguards, but there are others which differ—a result in part of different approaches to standard-setting. The EU’s stronger focus on applying the precautionary principle in setting regulations should not be weakened as a result of efforts under TTIP to align regulatory standards.
17. Where ‘mutual recognition’ of environmental standards is used to smooth trade between the EU and US, it will be important that this is applied only in cases where the ‘safety equivalence’ test is genuinely satisfied. Where it is not, such as for chemicals, existing regulation should be maintained. Failing to keep to such a course risks an unacceptable ‘race to the bottom’.
CHEM Trust welcomes this recommendation, and we call on the European Commission and the negotiators for EU Governments to give an assurance that chemical polices will not be covered by any TTIP agreement.
However, the risks of TTIP to the environment go well beyond the issue of chemicals regulation.