(24 February 2020) In a joint statement EPSU and 122 other organisations have voiced concerns over the current talks between the European Commission and the US authorities on a new trade agreement.
The statement is a response to the many reports about US attacks on the ‘precautionary principle’ and demands for a reduction of EU health and safety standards, to the detriment of public health, animal welfare and the environment.
EPSU and other organisations are critical of these ‘behind closed doors’ negotiations that are going on largely shielded from public scrutiny, in spite of new transparency measures adopted by the Commission.
The joint statement recalls that many “regulatory barriers” are in place for good reasons, namely to protect our health and the environment. The EU has restrictions on GMOs for example to protect biodiversity and consumers. Indeed, not only is it important to keep these protections, in many cases these “regulatory barriers”’ will need strengthening in the future to fulfil the promises of the ‘European Green Deal.’ This calls for trade agreements that are ‘future proof’ in terms of policy space to protect the public interest.
In an exchange with civil society on 18 February, the Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan denied that the EU would accept any lowering of standards in the talks with US.