MPs have warned that the EU-US trade deal currently being negotiated could risk “hard won” environmental and public health protections in a report. The report calls on the next government to ensure they are involved in discussion about the deal.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will broaden trade between the EU and US and the deal is expected to relax current quality and health and safety restrictions. Documents have suggested that the agreement could amount to deals worth €95 billion (£67bn) each year for the EU.
The Environmental Audit Committee has now warned that if laxer US regulations were to be agreed on as part of the negotiations it could weaken European and UK environmental and public health regulation. While MPs note that risks are still unclear at the moment, they have urged the next government after the general election in May to become involved in the process.
Chair of the committee, Joan Walley MP said, “The focus of TTIP has been on its potential for boosting transatlantic trade, but that must not be at the expense of throwing away hard-won environmental and public health protections.
“As the TTIP negotiations proceed, the next government will have to get itself involved, and ensure that the EU negotiators do not engage in a race to the bottom as it combine the two bloc’s regulatory systems.”
The potential agreement has led to some criticism, with some suggesting that the benefits have been “vastly overblown”, while campaign groups have said the trade negotiations are an “attack on democracy”.
One of the concerns raised by campaign groups and the Environmental Audit Committee is that the trade deal may allow companies to sue countries if they introduce regulation that makes it difficult for them to sell in the bloc, as has happened with other trade agreements.
Walley added that most importantly any dispute settlement provision must “unambiguously deny US companies any opportunity to sue us when we look to introduce necessary environmental and public health safeguards”.
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