The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is deeply concerned about the deregulatory aims of the U.S.-EU Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) negotiations that begin this week. The focus on eliminating so-called “trade irritants” through “harmonization” policies could have a tremendously negative impact on our regulatory system, overriding the public interest and long-supported safeguards that protect our well-being and safety.
In particular, TAFTA could invite corporations to sue governments, give industry more power to influence policymaking, impose additional cost-benefit analysis requirements, and drive down broadly accepted regulatory norms.
What is perhaps most concerning is that citizens have no way of knowing the details of
the trade negotiations. As CEOs of some of the most powerful corporations inform the negotiators’ decisions, citizens remain in the dark, barred from the process. As concerned citizens and members of the public interest community, we cannot even engage meaningfully on the proposed policies in the TAFTA agreements because they are unavailable to us.
Strikingly, the elimination of “trade irritants” could have a sweeping and destructive deregulatory impact. Some big business targets for the negotiations include the best EU and U.S. laws and standards covering food safety, toxics, climate, energy, privacy, financial stability, consumer labeling, drug and medical device safety and testing, competition, emerging technology, and other consumer and environmental protections.
The bottom line is that these harmonization policies could leave Americans and Europeans stuck with much weaker regulatory protections and raise corporate rights above the health and safety of citizens. Standards and safeguards protect the quality of life that Americans and other people across the globe expect and enjoy. TAFTA should not trade these away.
To learn more, check out this webcast from a TAFTA symposium held this week at the Sierra Club and a statement from both European and American organizations expressing concern about the deregulatory aims embedded in these closed-door trade negotiations.