Unelected European Commission (EC) officials won’t be able to make new trade laws without asking Washington first, if the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) comes into force, a leaked document reveals.
A secret document obtained by the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), indicates the EC will also have the power to decide where Brussels should cooperate with the US. Domestic governments and the European Parliament will see power slip away from them.
Details of the leaked document, which were first published in The Independent on Friday, suggest that the EU Parliament’s role on the international stage could lessen, while US regulators take on a dubious role in European trade decisions under so-called “regulatory cooperation,” according to the CEO.
EU leaders insist it is just a means of “cutting red tape for EU firms without cutting corners.”
The Brussels-based watchdog believes the document uncovers the extent to which large corporations and industry groups will be able to influence EU-US trade deals with what are currently called “substantial proposals.”
Speaking to RT on Friday, director of Global Justice Now (GJN) Nick Dearden called the leaked document ominous.
“The leak absolutely confirms our fears about TTIP – it’s all about giving big business more power over a very wide range of laws and regulations,” he said.
“In fact, business lobbies are on record as saying they want to co-write laws with governments – this gets them a step closer.”
“This isn’t an ‘add on’ or a small part of TTIP – it’s absolutely central. TTIP is about non-tariff trade barriers. To me and you that means regulation and laws, the vast majority of which aren’t ‘trade barriers’ unless you see society as nothing but a gigantic market place,” Dearden added.
These plans effectively give US authorities the power to challenge and alter laws that counter America’s interests without accountable democratic debate, says Dearden.
“We’re talking about sovereignty at the moment in this country – it’s difficult to imagine a more serious threat to our sovereignty than this trade deal,” he said.
TTIP will create the world’s biggest free-trade zone, scrapping tariffs and other obstacles to the trade of goods and services between the US and Europe. Supporters insist the trade deal will encourage investment and create employment, while critics warn it could give too much power to big business.
An Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, central to the agreement, would give corporations the power to sue governments when policy-makers introduce regulations affecting profits.
Critics say that the trade deal lacks transparency, impinges on sovereign governments’ right to rule in the public interest, and could result in regulators becoming captured.
Commenting on the leaked document obtained by the CEO, a spokesman for the European Commission said: “These accusations are unfounded and are not reflected in the EU proposal for simplifying rules for EU exporters. The text on regulatory cooperation will be published soon for everyone to see that this so-called analysis is completely false, presents a biased view of the European Commission’s work and ignores the reality of EU texts. Regulators – not trade negotiators – will continue to lead regulatory cooperation initiatives – both in the EU and the US.”
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