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    TTIP Leak Illustrates Depth Of “Enhanced Regulatory Cooperation” As NGOs Sound Off

    Published on 16 December 2013 @ 11:41 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    In time for the start of the third round of trade negotiations between the United States and European Union, EU transparency organisation Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) published the first interesting leak on the substance of the talks.

    [Update: the European Commission has responded with a critical statement, available here.]

    The EU position paper [pdf] on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) “Chapter on Regulatory Coherence” illustrates how negotiators envision harmonisation of the legislative environment on both sides of the Atlantic.

    All of the 20 or so work groups preparing text for the TTIP are meeting in Washington, DC from today until the end of the week.

    An open meeting with stakeholders will take place on Wednesday in an effort to at least give the impression of being transparent. As EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht and the US Trade Representative Michal Froman are going to engage early next year in a stock-taking exercise, negotiators are expected to try to make as much progress as possible. Meanwhile, support for a fast track procedure from Congress limiting itself to a yes-no vote on any trade agreement at this time is still not sure.

    NGOs, meanwhile, warn against what they see as an erosion of democratic legislative procedures in the member states and at the US state level.

    Meanwhile, a long list of NGOs in Europe and the US wrote [pdf] to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the European Commission DG Trade warning against the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism as yet another step around democratic institutions, they say.

    And close to a quarter of a million people have signed a petition by German NGOs including Campact, Mehr Democratie/Democracy International and Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft to stop the TTIP.

    Enhanced Regulatory Cooperation

    The leaked position paper on regulatory cooperation allows a first insight into how negotiators hope to avoid non-tariff and technical barriers to trade in the future. The paper points out that the “sovereign right (of both parties) to adopt new regulatory initiatives, to regulate in pursuit of legitimate public policy objectives” would be affirmed. Yet “regulatory cooperation” and a “light governance structure for that” shall be established nevertheless.

    Major tools for that, according to the position of the EU, are “periodic information on upcoming initiatives in the pipeline” (federal and state, EU and member states legislation) and “regulatory dialogues” (between Commission and US administration, but also facilitated by them). Furthermore, the inclusion of transatlantic trade aspects in the “impact assessment/cost analysis” and “information on existing legislation and enquiry and contact points” are on the to-do-list.

    “In concrete terms, where appropriate, regulators/competent authorities should cooperate to enhance regulatory compatibility, with a view to exploring trade facilitative solutions, e.g., by way of recognition of equivalence, mutual recognition or reliance and exchange of data and information, or other means,” the position paper reads.

    Regulatory authorities also should give “due consideration to substantiated proposals from the other side or joint requests from EU and US stakeholders on how to achieve these goals and be required to communicate to the other Party and the stakeholders in any appropriate form the outcome of this assessment and its rationale.”

    A “Regulatory Cooperation Council” manned by “senior level representatives from regulators and trade representatives the EU Commission’s Secretariat General (SG) and the US Office for Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) “shall meet twice a year, organize the work and “prepare a yearly regulatory programme.”

    Not the “FTA of Our Fathers”

    “It’s as if trade will take over all other regulatory sections,” warned a spokesperson from Campact.

    Corporate Europe Observatory in its extensive analysis of the leaked document of the regulatory cooperation proposal warns that the European Commission was planning to “fundamentally change the way regulations will be adopted in the future.”

    The organisation is concerned that big business will gain new powers “to call a halt to proposed legislation which conflicts with their interests, or to re-negotiate existing regulation.” The position paper shows, according to CEO, that industry was writing the rules as “the Commission’s position is remarkably similar to a proposal put forward by BusinessEurope and the US Chamber of Commerce.”

    “TTIP is much more than our father’s traditional FTA,” Joseph Francois, designated managing director of the World Trade Institute in Bern, acknowledged at an academic conference [pdf] of Heidelberg Center of American Studies/University of Heidelberg and the University of Mannheim last week. The agreement is trying to establish a pool of common standards, he said.

    Francois and other international trade experts point first to the economic benefits, and some say there only would be winners. Others, meanwhile, calculate that trade will be re-routed and, for example, trade within the European internal market would decrease.

    In its ambition and new nature, the TTIP goes far beyond the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Francois also noted. TPP, he said, “is just tariffs and IP – TRIPS-plus stuff.” TRIPS-plus refers to measures beyond the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

    Francois pointed to governments as trusted agents for the public in these negotiations.

    But according to the NGOs, secrecy on the TTIP texts is very rigorous with neither governments nor members of the European Parliament able to see negotiating texts at this time. Also, it is still unclear if the agreement will be a “mixed agreement” (with both EU and member states individually in charge), and it’s still unclear the negotiation results will ever go to national parliaments – as with the defeated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – for ratification.

    More Transparency Called For

    The continued lack of transparency is one of the joint positions of the growing alliance of EU and US NGOs, according to Alessa Hartmann, coordinator at the German NGO Forum on Environment & Development, after a meeting of 50 NGO representatives last week. The transparency initiatives by the negotiators including stakeholder meetings and the planned advisory council have been rejected by the activists as “fake transparency”.

    More transparency is not only be called for by the activists but was also acknowledged by experts at the academic conference in Heidelberg last week. The general manager of the American Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt, Andreas Povel, during a panel discussion at the Heidelberg conference the stakeholder meetings currently held in connection with the negotiations rounds were steps in the right direction, “but we need more transparency to come.”

    Celeste Drake, trade and globalisation expert at the AFL-CIO, the association of US trade unions, told Intellectual Property Watch that her organisation is concerned about the secrecy. In the US, draft legislation is published, markups in the committees are public and access is granted, she said.

    Drake in Heidelberg was one of the critical voices with regard to the regulatory coherence. For example, she said mutual recognition of standards also means that lipstick containing lead could come to European supermarkets. The nitty-gritty details of the deal have to be checked very attentively, she warned, to avoid a “race to the bottom”.

    Simplification, minimisation and avoidance of regulation are on the road map of the chemical industry, Kurt Bock, CEO of BASF, said during the Heidelberg panel discussion.

    The EU and US chemical industry have started to prepare a joint position they want to present to negotiators. It is good, he said, when industry comes forward with what they have in mind.

    The NGOs also are preparing a joint position for early next year. Will those inputs be treated the same?

    Monika Ermert may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Ny TTIP-läcka; EU:s positionspapper läckt och analyserat | ttippen.se says:

      […] Se även; Information (danska), IP-watch […]

    2. TRADE GAME | TTIP USA-UE: l’amara scoperta su come cambierà la protezione di lavoro, ambiente e consumatori says:

      […] TTIP Leak Illustrates Depth Of “Enhanced Regulatory Cooperation” As NGOs Sound Off (ip-watch.org) […]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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