“BEUC cautions against TTIP that would seek to align EU and US chemicals management frameworks”

Cecilia Malmstrom EU Commissioner Trade

Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner responsible for Trade (European Union, 2016/ Source: EC-Aduiovisual Service/ Photo: Adam Berry)

As it happened several times in the past, the closer a TTIP negotiation round gets, the bigger the debate over the main questions intensifies. With the next round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks due to take place this month in Brussels, this time was the turn of the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, to raise concerns over the mammoth EU-US treaty.

The Brussels-based umbrella consumer group released a position paper on the proposed TTIP agreement last week where it urges the European Commission not to validate the pact with the US as it would allegedly increase consumer exposure to toxic chemicals. According to BEUC the EU’s chemical risks control system, which is by definition the world’s most ambitious one, could be potentially weakened by “the nature and scope of the transatlantic trade deal” itself.

Different systems

Indeed BEUC sees the many differences between the European and the American regulatory systems on chemical products, with the risk for the EU system to lose its high standards if merged with the American one, as the core issue of the discussion. The problem is that, according to BEUC, the new regulation was “a reaction” to three decades of “negative experience in the United States under the Toxic Substances Control Act”, the TSCA, which does not require chemical suppliers to provide any data on the hazards of their products.

The “REACH” shelter

As widely believed, the source of the risks for the consumers can be found in the lack of toxicity and exposure information on many chemical substances in commercial use. Against this background, the EU in 2006 adopted a legislation setting up a new system for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, the REACH. As also explained by BEUC in its paper, one of the core objectives of the REACH Regulation is thus to create pressure on companies to develop better information on their chemicals and guarantee safety for the consumers.

“REACH adopts several techniques that reverse the approach to chemicals management taken under TSCA, the most important of which are prescribing precaution in the face of scientific uncertainty and shifting the burden of proof from regulators to industry”, BEUC reported. In a few words, according to BEUC, the American system has too many “black holes” in its body, and so would ultimately allow too much space for chemical industries to manoeuvre. Therefore, BEUC’s position is quite clear: “Given the dismal record of toxic substance control in the United States, BEUC cautions against a transatlantic free-trade agreement that would seek to align EU and US chemicals management frameworks”, BEUC urged in its document.

BEUC’s requirements

Overall, BEUC’s position on TTIP and the way the proposed EU-US trade agreement would regulate chemicals and toxic products is quite clear. “We see a risk that current TTIP proposals would delay or thwart progress on reducing consumer exposure to toxic chemicals”, BEUC explained and so urged the negotiating parties to “reconsider their approach to the chemicals sector”. According to BEUC, the negotiating parties have so far “failed” to deliver “a bold, ambitious vision for transatlantic cooperation on chemicals that would bring real benefits to consumers and the environment”.

The European Consumer Organisation basically is now asking European negotiators and authorities to conclude an agreement which keeps the consumer always informed about the presence of harmful chemicals in products and that encourages management of chemicals based on hazard. The point is that BEUC is determined and firm on the position of having chemicals excluded from the TTIP regulatory cooperation chapters “should the negotiating parties fail to reconsider their approach”.

Contrasts with the industry’s view

BEUC’s position is openly in contrast with what other organisations and associations believe, like the European Chemical Industry Council for example. What CEFIC (From its former French name Conseil Européen des Fédérations de l’Industrie Chimique) says, as the main European trade association for the chemical industry, is that TTIP is a “remarkable opportunity” for both the European and American economic systems. CEFIC’s official position on the transatlantic trade agreement, as explained on its website, is that The European chemical industry supports this ambitious partnership as the United States remain the European Union’s biggest chemical trading partner.

“Maintain highest standards”

CEFIC also says that “proposals” to promote efficiencies “within and between the current legislations” and to reduce costs have been made with American Chemistry Council. “They [the proposals] aim to promote alignment, primarily by ensuring a common scientific basis for decision-making, without changing regulation”, says CEFIC on its website. Moreover, on its official position paper on TTIP, CEFIC asks EU policy makers to “maintain the highest standards of chemical safety in the EU”, where “an enhanced EU-US co-operation on agreeing classifications for chemicals could become a good basis for a global list while respecting each other procedures”. The Sting’s readers can find CEFIC position paper here.

Next TTIP round

The whole chemical system regulation issue is surely destined to have a big impact on the next round of talks, as on the whole negotiation process. In the official report of last negotiations round, published by the EU, it has already been said that chemicals provision in TTIP, which basically were not discussed in the 11th round, will have a prominent position during next round.

The 12th round of TTIP talks is due to to take place in the second half of February, although dates haven’t been announced yet.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A renewed agenda for Research and Innovation: Europe’s chance to shape the future

The best companies to work for in 2020, according to Glassdoor

Mark Zuckerberg will be at the European Parliament today to meet President Tajani and the political group chairpersons

Removing sweets from supermarket checkouts could help fight obesity

Inclusion, empowerment and equality, must be ‘at the heart of our efforts’ to ensure sustainable development, says UN chief

Continue reforms to make growth work for all in Spain

Crisis hit countries cut down public spending on education

‘Race against time’ to help women who bore brunt of Cyclone Idai: UN reproductive health agency

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

Back to the basics for the EU: Investment equals Growth

ILO: Unemployment to increase by 8.1 million in 2013-2014

MEPs call on Russia to stop illegitimate prosecution of Lithuanian judges

The ECB must extend its money stimulus beyond 2018: Draghi reckoning

If you live in a big city you already smoke every day

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

Human Rights breaches in Russia, Afghanistan and Burkina Faso

EU-Singapore trade agreement enters into force

North Koreans trapped in ‘vicious cycle of deprivation, corruption, repression’ and endemic bribery: UN human rights office

D-Day for Grexit is today and not Friday; Super Mario is likely to kill the Greek banks still today

Security Council: UN welcomes efforts to de-escalate crisis in northeast Syria

Eliminating waste at scale – eight opportunities for blockchain

Declaring commitment to ‘peace and stability’ for Libya, top UN envoy steps down as stress takes its toll

How climate change exacerbates the refugee crisis – and what can be done about it

Top global firms commit to tackling inequality by joining Business for Inclusive Growth coalition

Which countries have the highest unemployment rates?

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

How do we build a #sustainableworld?

Marriage equality boosted employment of both partners in US gay and lesbian couples

Plastic is a global problem. It’s also a global opportunity

Climate change is forcing 20 million people a year from their homes, Oxfam says

Coronavirus: following Commission’s call, platforms remove millions of misleading ads

Fear casts again a cold, ugly shadow over Europe; Turkey sides with Russia

Not enough resettlement solutions for refugees worldwide, says UN

Why a coronavirus vaccine takes over a year to produce – and why that is incredibly fast

CHINA UNLIMITED. PEOPLE UNLIMITED. RESTRICTIONS LIMITED

These artists created a huge open library – and their idea’s gone global

Cameron postpones speech in Holland

EU and Japan agree on free-trade deal and fill the post-TPP void

3 ways activists are being targeted by cyberattacks

COP25: Support business efforts to tackle climate change, urges Guterres

These patients are sharing their data to improve healthcare standards

6 facts to know about EU alternative investment funds

Unanswered questions for Europe’s youth in President Juncker’s State of Union

European Development Days 2013

COP21 Business update: Companies urge now for carbon pricing as coal is still a big issue

China dazzles the world with her Silk Road plan to connect, Asia, Europe and Africa

Ending extreme poverty crucial to sustainable future for all: UN chief

Volkswagen scandal update: “We want clarity fast, but it is equally important to have the complete picture”, Commission’s spokesperson underscores from Brussels

“Let hope be the antidote to fear” – Today’s WHO briefing and other key Coronavirus updates, tips and tools

Rural Bangladesh has already embraced renewable energy. Here’s what the rest of the world can learn

MEPs spell out priorities for the European Central Bank and on banking union

Better outreach to citizens needed to improve effectiveness of European Commission’s public consultations, say Auditors

How can we prepare for the post-coronavirus era? A view from Japan

10th ASEM in Milan and the importance of being one: EU’s big challenge on the way to China

Coronavirus: MEPs call for solidarity among EU member states

The G7 fails to agree on growth but protects the big banks

Societies must unite against ‘global crisis of antisemitic hatred’, Guterres urges

Statement on the Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission asks online platforms to provide more details on progress made

5 ways urban transport could step up a gear for women

How do we upskill a billion people by 2030? Leadership and collaboration will be key

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s