Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes
They say the most important part of a debate is defining the arguments. Suzanne Lynch’s excellent article explaining TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a perfect example of how TTIP opponents have been successful in defining what an EU-US trade agreement, like TTIP, might contain.
Opponents to Atlantic trade are focusing on the straw men of genetically modified food and hormone-treated beef. Let’s be clear – no EU trade agreement will ever lower our level of protection of consumers or food safety. European food standards are not up for negotiation.
Many of these issues arose in the EU-Canada trade deal and were resolved. The scare tactic put forward of some sort of malevolent investor court ruling for multinationals against governments is not borne out by history.
Investment protection exists in 1,400 bilateral agreements signed by EU member states since the 1960s. These have not stopped governments legislating in the public interest. Little if any attention has been given to the massive steps forward for workers rights and the environment a potential trade agreement between Europe and America could bring.
The sustainable development provisions the EU negotiators put forward are the most ambitious provisions on sustainable development, labour protection and the environment put to any trading partner. Europe’s negotiators want TTIP to include the International Labour Organisation’s core standards. The sustainable development chapter ensures high standards for labour and addresses health and safety at work and workers’ rights.
TTIP allows Europe to bring our environmental standards on biodiversity, shipments of chemicals and waste, and sustainable management of natural resources to bear on a global scale. The EU legal text enhances co-operation between the EU and US to fight illegal logging, illegal fishing and the illegal trade in endangered wildlife.
TTIP would make it easier to trade goods and services that help us tackle environmental problems, such as climate-friendly and resource-efficient products. We have an international agreement to combat climate change, and TTIP can help us implement it.
International trade negotiations are complex and cannot be boiled down to a slogan on a placard. The details of TTIP need to be discussed openly, honestly and fairly. A good start is to look at the totality of the negotiating documents and not straw men put forward by opponents to trade.
Brian Hayes MEP,
Previously: Luke’s TTIP