Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Report of the 13th Round of TTIP Negotiations; Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues and Agricultural Goods

During the TTIP 13th round of negotiations, "negotiators discussed proposed articles on import checks, certification, the set-up of a Committee structure, emergency measures, transparency, audits, anti-microbial resistance, animal welfare, modern agriculture technologies and trade facilitation to map out objectives and possible ways forward. Good discussions took place on import checks. Both parties agreed on maintaining risk based import checks. Further progress was made on certification, Committees, audits and verification. The EU indicated it does not support a US proposal on modern agricultural technologies.

On animal welfare, the Parties had a first detailed discussion of their respective expectations and concerns. The EU explained the nature of its proposed animal welfare provisions. It was noted that the regulatory approach differs significantly in the EU and US. The EU described the expectations of its legislature and stakeholders. The EU explained its proposal in more detail. The EU answered questions from the US. The EU insisted on the importance of animal welfare provisions in trade agreements and the relevance of the matter for SPS.

On anti-microbial resistance (AMR), a technical presentation by the US was made illustrating the US efforts on AMR domestically and internationally. The EU stressed the importance of joint efforts to fight AMR at all levels in all fora and argued for the inclusion of AMR in the SPS Chapter.

The session on agriculture consisted of three parts: the draft chapter on agriculture, tariffs and non-tariff issues.

As regards the consolidated text on agriculture, good progress was achieved with respect to the least controversial provisions, such as cooperation, committee on agriculture, and spirits, for which the EU had presented a textual proposal in the February round. The Parties maintained their diverging positions regarding other aspects of the chapter.

Regarding tariffs, the discussion centered upon products within the 97% of lines covered by the second offer, with each side flagging specific export interests and requests to reduce proposed staging periods. Products identified as the most sensitive were not reviewed. Finally, the two sides continued discussing specific non-tariff issues related to agriculture."

Source: Report of the 13th Round of Negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (New York, 25-29 April 2016) found at

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Draft Study on Impact of TTIP Open For Public Consultation

A draft interim report on the trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the United States was published on 13th May 2016. The report was commissioned by the European Commission and carried out by an independent consultant, Ecorys. Ecorys is an international company providing research, consultancy and management service specializing in economic, social and spatial development.

The technical report is a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) highlighting the opportunities that a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could create for people and businesses across Europe and is available for public consultation. Each SIA aims to provide a detailed analysis of the economic, social, human rights and environmental impacts of the trade agreement under negotiation. The carrying out of Sustainability Impact Assessments has been the standard practice of the European Commission on all negotiated trade agreements since 1999. These assessments are carried out during the negotiations and feed into the work of the negotiators as the negotiations progress.

“The report indicates that all Member States’ economies would grow as a result of the new trade agreement. The study also predicts that EU exports to the US would rise by 27% and a mix of social indicators shows a combined benefit both for European and US citizens. The report goes beyond the numbers to also look in detail at the social and environmental impact that TTIP could have.”

The EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström commented: "This report, being a draft version to now be scrutinized, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the report does highlight the many opportunities TTIP presents for the EU. I believe, though, that one particular thing cannot be scientifically captured in any study, however – the impact of TTIP on Europe's ability to shape globalization according to our own standards. Modern trade agreements are one of the tools at our disposal to shape globalization, making it more responsible. With this in mind, both TTIP as well as our trade agreement with Canada (CETA) aim to include progressive chapters on sustainable development, including on labor rights and the environment."

More than 500 interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to review the draft and offer feedback, before the work on the final interim report and recommendations for the end of 2016 starts. A Civil Society Dialogue with the authors of the report is organized by the Commission, which will take place on 30 May 2016 with the following Agenda:
1. Presentation of the Draft Interim Technical Report for the Trade SIA in support of TTIP.
2. Open discussion with stakeholders.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Negotiating TTIP: Comment by Commissioner Malmström on the Supposed TTIP Leaks

"Many media outlets are reporting this morning about supposed leaks from our negotiations with the United States on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As there seems to be quite a number of misconceptions floating around, a few things might be worth pointing out.

First of all, and contrary to what many seem to believe, so-called "consolidated texts" in a trade negotiation are not the same thing as an outcome. They reflect each side's negotiating position, nothing else. And it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are areas where the EU and the US have different views. As I pointed out on this blog last week there are areas in the TTIP negotiations where we have come a long way, but in others we are simply not in agreement.

It is only normal that both parties in a negotiation want to achieve as many of their own objectives as possible. That does not mean that the other side gives in to those demands. That does not mean that the parties will meet halfway. In areas where we are too far apart in a negotiation, we simply will not agree. In that sense, many of today's alarmist headlines are a storm in a teacup.

In the past year, the European Commission has opened up the negotiations to make our positions on all matters in the negotiations public. After each negotiating round, we publish round reports as well as our position papers and textual proposals. So the positions of the EU are well-known and nothing new.

Take our proposal for regulatory coherence, for example. Our latest proposal – tabled during the February round and made public shortly thereafter – includes references to the precautionary principle, and points out our well-established public consultation procedures that are open to all stakeholders.

And no, the EU industry does not have greater access to EU negotiating positions than other stakeholders. We take into account submissions by industry, but exactly the same applies to submissions by trade unions, consumer groups or health or environmental organisations – all of which are represented in the advisory group that regularly meets our negotiating team.

It begs to be said, again and again: No EU trade agreement will ever lower our level of protection of consumers, or food safety, or of the environment. Trade agreements will not change our laws on GMOs, or how to produce safe beef, or how to protect the environment.

Any EU trade deal can only change regulation by making it stronger. We might agree with a partner that rules on the safety of medicines would be tougher than before, for example, but never weaker. No trade deal will limit our ability to make new rules to protect our citizens or environment in the future.

I am simply not in the business of lowering standards. I have a clear negotiating mandate for the negotiations given to the Commission by 28 EU governments, that clearly spells out what a successful agreement has to look like, and what our non-negotiable red lines are. And as always, the end result of a negotiation would have to be cleared by those 28 Member States and the European Parliament before becoming reality."


Friday, May 6, 2016


In February 2013, the United States and the European Union leaders declared plans to negotiate a wide-ranging and high-standard free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and the EU. The agreement is referred to as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Formal negotiations initiated in July 2013, and thirteen rounds of negotiations have been held to date. If concluded as anticipated, TTIP could be the largest FTA in the world in terms of economic size. TTIP aims to enhance market access through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment in goods, services, and agriculture. TTIP negotiations are addressing a broad range of areas.

Key to this blog is TTIP’s negotiations surrounding food trade. There are fundamental differences between the US and the EU approach toward evaluating food safety. The EU looks to the Precautionary Principle as its regulatory foundation, essentially a “better safe than sorry” approach. The US employs a “risk assessment” approach linked to cost-benefit analyses when reviewing food safety standards. As a result of these contradictory methodologies, the EU generally has higher food safety standards than the US. However, in some areas the US has advanced standards such as banning ruminant materials in livestock feed that can lead to mad cow disease.

In terms of farming practices in both regions, vast differences exist between the two systems. In particular, are the controversial processes banned in the EU but routine in the US. The differences in practices are based on a different approach to food safety and include the often-cited US practice of washing chicken in chlorine, to the use of growth-promoting hormones in pigs and cattle processes.

There are also huge differences in the treatment of genetically modified crops, with a fundamental ban in the EU and extensive use in the US. The maximum residue levels for pesticides on fruits and vegetables are 500 times higher in the US than in the EU. At the same time, the spread of industrial factory-farming methods is in stark contrast with Europe’s farm to fork approach. 

This blog will track TTIP developments and efforts to harmonize regulations and claims of equivalences in the standards.