U.S. and European Corporations' Latest Venue to Attack Consumer and Environmental Safeguards?
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 banks, agribusinesses and other powerful industry groups 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 Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) – a deal that would chill protections on both sides of the Atlantic. TTIP negotiations began in July 2013 and have been on hold since October 2016.
In the official document outlining TTIP, the Obama administration made clear that TTIP would not primarily target trade, but “behind-the-border” policies such as health, environmental and financial protections. U.S. and European corporations call these safeguards on which we all rely “trade irritants,” and have asked that they be eliminated via TTIP:
- European agribusiness corporations have listed U.S. safety standards for Grade A milk as an “obstacle” that they hope can be removed via TTIP. They acknowledge that the standards “were devised as a means of addressing the risk of food borne illnesses,” but express hope the standards can be weakened because complying with them “is both highly cumbersome and expensive.”
- European banks have openly targeted U.S. financial regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis to rein in Wall Street, calling the new financial stability policies “barriers to trade” that should be watered down via TTIP.
- The deregulatory wishlists of European and U.S. corporations reveal that the deal could also threaten climate policies, food safety labels, chemical safeguards, Buy Local preferences and data privacy.
Incredibly, the TTIP includes the extreme investor privileges of past “trade” deals that have empowered multinational corporations to circumvent domestic courts and drag sovereign governments before extrajudicial tribunals authorized to order taxpayer compensation for public interest policies. But U.S. and European domestic courts and property laws are among the strongest in the world. Including such provisions in TTIP would only empower corporations with a new way to attack our laws and grab our tax dollars.
Multinational corporations have used these privileges when included in past “trade” deals to attack domestic renewable energy policies, patent standards, bans on toxins, and green jobs programs, extracting more than $4.5 billion so far from taxpayers under U.S. deals. The multinational tribunals authorized to rule against such domestic policies and order compensation are comprised of three private attorneys, many of whom rotate between acting as “judges” and bringing cases against the governments on behalf of the corporations.
If this extreme system is expanded through TTIP as proposed, the thousands of European corporations with U.S. subsidiaries (and vice versa) would be newly empowered to attack domestic health, environmental and financial safeguards that they claim frustrate their expectations. The tribunals would be authorized to order taxpayer compensation to the multinational corporations for the “expected future profits” they surmise would be inhibited by the challenged policies. This radical provision alone makes TTIP an unacceptable liability for consumers, workers and the environment.
- Alternatives: The New Rules of the Road: A Progressive Approach to Globalization
- TTIP Corporate Empowerment Map: See which multinational corporations near you could use NAFTA-style investor privileges to challenge laws and regulations under TTIP
- Find out more on the blog: Read the latest on TTIP on Eyes on Trade
- Chart: See all corporate investor-state cases and claims launched under U.S. ‘free trade’ deals
- See our TTIP fact sheet series in the box above.
- Prosperity Undermined: The Status Quo Trade Model’s 21-Year Record of Massive U.S. Trade Deficits, Job Loss and Wage Suppression (August 20, 2015)
- Raw Deals for Small Businesses: U.S. Small Firms Have Endured Slow and Declining Exports under “Free Trade” Deals (June 22, 2015)
- Debunking Ten Common Defenses of Controversial Investor-State Corporate Privileges (May 11, 2015)
- U.S. Experience Shows Structural Incentives Favoring Corporations in Investor-State System Not Fixable via Changes to Trade Pact Terms (December 15, 2014)
- Tens of Thousands of U.S. Firms Would Obtain New Powers to Launch Investor-State Attacks against European Policies via CETA and TTIP (December 9, 2014)
- Myths and Ommissions: Unpacking Obama Administration Defenses of Investor-State Corporate Privileges (October 2, 2014)
- GTW Comments to U.S. International Trade Commission; Pre-Hearing Brief on Methodological Questions Relating to the USITC Investigation Concerning the Proposed Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (May 17, 2013)
- Public Citizen Comments Concerning the Proposed Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (May 10, 2013)
- Public Citizen Comments on the Proposed Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) to U.S.-EU High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum (April 10, 2013)
- President Trump’s Executive Orders Formally Bury TPP’s Corpse, but What About TTIP, TISA, China BIT? (January 23, 2017)
- Leaked TTIP Documents: Threats to Regulatory Protections (May 2, 2016)
- Obama and Merkel Should Change Course on TTIP and Heed Bipartisan, Transatlantic Revolt Against More-of-the-Same Trade Agreements (April 24, 2016)
- As Growing European Government Opposition to Investor-State Regime Shadows This Week’s U.S.-EU Talks, New Report Takes on Obama Administration Defense of Parallel Legal System for Multinational Corporations (October 2, 2014)
- Civil Society Organizations Oppose U.S.-EU ‘Trade’ Pact Proposals That Would Undermine Chemical Safety Protections (July 10, 2014)
- Obama-Merkel Summit Presents Perfect Opportunity to Drop Controversial Multinational “Investor-State” Rights in U.S.-EU Trade Pact (May 1, 2014)
- Reporters’ Memo: Beware of Outlandish Claims About Economic Benefits of U.S.-EU ‘Free Trade’ Deal (September 27, 2013)
- Environmental, Consumer, Labor Groups Hold Telephone Press Conference on First Round of Proposed U.S.-EU Trade Deal (July 3, 2013)
- Reporters’ Memo: First House Hearing Today on the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (May 16, 2013)
- Sen. Murphy Leads Group of Senators in Calling for Preservation of “Buy American” Policies in Trade Negotiations (September 21, 2015)
- 31 Members of Congress Write to President Obama to Express Concerns with TTIP/TAFTA (April 23, 2015)
- Senators to U.S. Trade Rep: End Trade Deal Secrecy (February 26, 2015)
- Following Call for Fast Track Authority During State of The Union Address, Brown Urges Administration to Stand Up for American Workers and Businesses (January 20, 2015)
- Pascrell, Ways and Means Democrats Urge President Obama to Exclude Investor State Dispute Settlement Provisions from Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (December 18, 2014)
- Sanders Contrasts U.S. Trade Secrecy to EU Transparency (January 7, 2015)
- Rep. Waters Leads Group of Congressional Leaders in Writing to Secretary Lew and Ambassador Froman About Financial Stability Provisions in TTIP (December 1, 2014)
- Letter: Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) Calls for Increased Transparency in Negotiations on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs (April 27, 2018)
- Open Letter From U.S. and UK Civil Society Groups Demanding Transparency in Any Potential U.S.-UK Trade Deal (July 25, 2017)
- 220+ Law and Economics Professors Urge Congress to Reject the TPP and Other Prospective Deals that Include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) (September 7, 2016)
- Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Hosts TTIP Introductory Briefing With Civil Society Experts (March 22, 2016)
- AFL-CIO: USTR Must End Secrecy Surrounding TTIP Negotiations (October 23, 2015)
- Public Citizen, Progressive Organizations Call on USTR Froman to Disclose Communications with Largest Financial Institutions (May 28, 2015)
- Lawyers Write to Congressional Leaders to Oppose the Inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Provisions in the TPP (March 11, 2015)
- Consumer Federation of America – How the EU/US Trade Agreement Impacts Product Safety and the Regulatory Process (December 17, 2014)
- Center for Effective Government – Industry Control vs. Safety: The Ineffective United States Chemical Regulation Regime (December 17, 2014)
- 52 U.S. and EU Organizations Send Open Letter on TTIP and Financial Regulations to U.S. and EU Negotiators (October 1, 2014)
- Coalition of Businesses and Civil Society Organizations write to Ambassador Froman Expressing Concerns About TTIP Proposals that Would Threaten GMO Labeling Efforts (September 30, 2014)
- 111 Consumer, Health, Environmental, Labor Groups Warn Trade Ministers About TTIP Proposals on Chemicals That Would Endanger Public Health (July 10, 2014)
- Coalition of 177 Civil Society Organizations Express Concern About Proposals for “Regulatory Cooperation” under TTIP (May 12, 2014)
- Public Citizen, More Than 40 Other Organizations Call for Public Consultations on Investor Rights in Trade Deals (February 28, 2014)
- Americans for Financial Reform: Coalition of 250 Civil Society Organizations Expresses Concern about Financial Deregulation in the TPP and TAFTA (December 19, 2013)
- Civil society coalition letter to USTR Froman and Commissioner de Gucht in opposition to including investor-state dispute resolution in TTIP (December 16, 2013)
- Civil society coalition letter to President Barack Obama, President José Manuel Barroso, and President Herman Van Rompuy on concerns with TTIP negotiations (November 11, 2013)
- Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue warns of TTIP’s threats to financial regulation (October 2013)
- Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue issues statement against investor privileges in TTIP (October 2013)
- Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue warns of TTIP’s threats to food safety (October 2013)
- Initial reaction of EU and U.S. consumer groups of the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue to the announcement of a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) in letter to USTR Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht (March 5, 2013)