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Transnational Corporations: Empower Investor Attacks on Safeguards

TAFTA: Empowering Corporations to Bypass Domestic Courts and Attach Consumer and Environmental Safeguards before Extrajudicial Tribunals

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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The safety standards on which we rely daily for our food, medicines and cars. The energy and climate policies needed to save our planet. 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. Forover 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 consumer 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 financial laws and regulations, climate policies, 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 allowed under processes called “equivalence” and “mutual recognition,” or obligations to actually alter domestic U.S.and EU policies 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. But it gets worse.