05 Nov 2015
November 5, 2015

Nordic Civil Society Statement on TTIP

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Nordic Civil society groups denounce “regulatory cooperation” in the TTIP negotiations as a threat to democracy and an attempt to put the interests of big business before the protection of citizens, workers, and the environment 

Download full statement: Nordic Civil Society Statement on TTIP

Today, 5th November 2015, the British Chamber of Commerce in Denmark and the representation of the EU in Denmark will host a so-called “TTIP Nordic Debate” (1) focussing on regulatory issues. While representatives from Nordic civil-society groups are present in the program, thereby allowing critical input, the objective for the debate, as the organisers themselves write, is for “the European Commission, along with governments and business/industry leaders to secure public endorsement of the deal”.

In that regard, we, the undersigned organisations, hereby express our deep concern about and our firm opposition to the direction of the TTIP negotiations regarding the regulation of vital areas, such as chemicals, food standards, public services, occupational health and safety, and financial regulation. While we see regulations in all of these areas as crucial for the protection of the public interest, the proponents see them primarily as “restricting trade”.

The latest leaked European Commission position on the regulatory cooperation chapter of the TTIP negotiations (2) clearly supports our concerns that TTIP will undermine and prevent important regulation. The Commission proposals for regulatory cooperation carry the threat of lowering standards in the long and short term. They constrain democratic decision-making by strengthening the influence of big business over regulation. This threatens to delay and stall stronger protections from e.g. toxic chemicals and pesticides (3) and could also constitute a gradual attack on the precautionary principle, slowly but widely opening doors to e.g. GMOs, and preventing important regulation of nanomaterials, neonicotinoid pesticides and endocrine disruptors (4).’

The Commission proposes a system that can only result in further barriers to developing public interest standards, as these would need to be ‘trade and investment’ proof. It also gives unprecedented influence to business lobby groups to stop any new regulation that would impact on trade and investment. The proposal strongly prioritises trade and investment over the public interest. The system would give enormous power to a small group of unelected officials to stop and weaken regulations and standards even before democratically elected bodies, such as the Nordic and the European parliaments, would have a say over them, thus undermining our democratic system.

The Commission calls for more “compatibility” between laws on both sides of the Atlantic and a “pro-competitive regulatory environment”. However, as demonstrated by a European Parliament report (5), compatibility is going to lead to “downward harmonisation”.

The Commission proposal also reflects industry’s demand to create a Regulatory Cooperation Body to facilitate an early information system of consultations and influence over the development of new laws. In line with the demands of business lobby groups (6), US and EU businesses would have a greater say on most laws in Brussels, as well as Nordic capitals.

For these reasons, we show our firm opposition to regulatory cooperation in the TTIP negotiations and call on all democratic forces to join us.

Signed by:

Afrika Kontakt
ATTAC Danmark
Forebyggelses- og Patientrådet
Biodynamiske Forbrugere
NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark
Oplysningsforbundet Mayday
Corporate Europe Observatory
Danish Eco-Council
Actionaid Denmark (Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke)
National Union of Students Denmark
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Danmark (UAEM Danmark)
TTIP Network Finland
Attac Finland
Maailmankauppojen liitto ry (The Finnish Union of World Shops) Finnish NGDO platform to the EU 350 Finland
Friend of the Earth Finland The Finnish Nature League Parecon Finland
Amandamaji ry Naiset Rauhan Puolesta (Women for Peace Finland) Naiset Atomivoimaa Vastaan (Woman against Nuclear Power Finland)

(1) http://www.bccd.dk/Events/Event%20listing/2015/11/ttip-nordic-debate.aspx
(2) http://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2014/12/ttip-covert-attacks-democracy-and-regulation
(3) http://ciel.org/Publications/LCD_TTIP_Jan2015.pdf
(4) https://www.agra-net.net/agra/agra-europe/crops/ttip-must-prioritise-regulatory-co-operation-on-gmos—coceral–1.htm
(5) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2014/514007/AGRI_IPOL_STU%282014%29514007_EN.pdf
(6) http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/businesseurope-uschamber-paper.pdf