“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.

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

Brain drain 2017: why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

Vegetarianism is good for the economy too

Misinformation and growing distrust on vaccines, ‘dangerous as a disease’ says UNICEF chief

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Why is Grexit again in the news? Who is to pay for Eurozone’s banking problems?

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

To achieve the Great Reset, we will need more than just the actions of the powerful

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

6 charts that show how Japan’s economy stacks up as it enters a new era

MEPs want to boost energy storage in the EU to help spur decarbonisation

DR Congo President and UN chief meet at a ‘historic moment’ for democracy in the country

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to ‘achieve their full potential’ says UN chief

Italian banks: It’s Rome’s turn to confront Berlin’s aggressiveness

Draghi strives to control the unruly exploitation of financial markets by banking leviathans

Eurozone: How safe are our deposits? Which banks will survive?

Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Growing up near green space is good for your mental health as an adult

Here’s how data could make our cities safer

New York and London mayors call on cities to divest from fossil fuels

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by Ethiopia plane crash which killed 157, including at least 21 UN workers

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

Finland should do more to improve job prospects of low-skilled youth

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

5 steps businesses can take to protect air quality after COVID-19

One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

What matters most to young Europeans?

Only the Americans are unhappy with the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

ECB’s new money bonanza handed out to help the real economy or create new bubbles?

Digitalization is changing banking – These 3 trends will help shape its future

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears

How banking with blockchain can stamp out corruption and increase financial inclusion

Does the Erasmus program really contribute to the construction of a solid EU identity?

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

The European Commission to stop Buffering

Tools of asset development: Renewable Energy Projects case

The blackened white coat of the doctors

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

Brexit must not put UK university research at risk

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

Energy: EU funding for priority projects should reflect 2050 climate objectives

Healthy habits to help you cope with health anxiety

‘End the ongoing atrocities’ against people with albinism in Malawi, say UN rights experts

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

The relation of deforestation and respiratory diseases

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

International Criminal Court acquits former president Gbagbo of war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire

How emerging markets will shape Africa in 2020

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