TAFTA: A Backdoor Plan to Roll Back Clean Energy Policies
By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
The energy and climate policies needed to save our planet. The safety standards on which we rely daily for our food, medicines and cars. The new financial regulations designed to prevent banks from gambling with our money and creating another crisis. These are policies that should be determined in open, democratic venues where we have a say. But a group of the largest U.S. and European corporations want to rewrite these safeguards behind closed doors. For over a decade, they have pushed for a new U.S. “trade” deal with Europe – the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which corporate proponents have tried to rebrand as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a deal that would roll back protections on both sides of the Atlantic. European Union (EU) and U.S. negotiators launched TAFTA negotiations in July 2013 and plan to finish the sweeping deal by 2014.
A “trade” deal only in name, TAFTA would require the United States and EU to conform domestic climate and energy policies, financial regulations, food and product safety standards, data privacy protections and other non-trade policies to TAFTA rules. This could include obligations for products and services that do not meet domestic standards to be allowedunder processes called “equivalence” and “mutual recognition,” or obligations to actually alter domestic U.S. and EUpolicies to conform to existing international standards or to new trans-Atlantic standards negotiated to be more convenient to business. These constraints on policy space would be binding. Failure to comply with TAFTA rules could result in trade sanctions. The pact could also newly empower foreign corporations, including oil and coal companies, to directly challenge public interest policies and demand taxpayer compensation in extrajudicial tribunals.