TTIP Update from Jude and Paul

03 May 2016

A lot has happened since our last update on TTIP, the EU/US trade deal negotiations, and we thought you would like to hear about recent developments.

Ahead of the 13th round of negotiations in New York last week, the European Commission published a state of play on TTIP which prompted many reactions. In-between the lines, the document shows that the European Commission is concerned that negotiations have not been progressing at the scheduled pace, and that they are now at risk of reaching a complete stalemate.

Earlier in March the European Commission had published a raft of new TTIP negotiating documents, including recent proposals made by the EU side. But further transparency remains dependent on US goodwill, and it was only through leaked documents that we found out one of the reasons why the negotiations are blocked.

It has a lot to do with the EU actually doing what it said it would: the US has been pushing for relaxed standards in many areas, but the European Commission is holding strong and refusing to compromise on issues such as animal welfare, exactly how it pledged it would.

The documents leaked today are primarily "consolidated documents" which reflect agreements between EU and US negotiators. As such, and unlike EU proposals, the EU cannot decide alone to make them public. The European Parliament adopted last week a report calling on the disclosure of all TTIP documents unless the Commission can justify that a document is sensitive and needs to be kept confidential. The report specifically mentions documents already agreed on, but publication of such documents requires the approval of the EU's negotiating partners.

Meanwhile one of the UK's lead campaigners on TTIP - Nick Dearden from Global Justice Now - firmly rejected any suggestion that leaving the EU would address any of our concerns on TTIP. In fact, Nick Dearden argues that the situation may very well be far worse if we were to leave the Tories negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the US.

Finally, rumours were rife in the last few weeks that the EU was secretly planning to implement trade deals such as TTIP or CETA - the separate EU-Canada negotiations - before parliamentary approval. Jude's put the question to the EU trade commissioner and got a categorical denial: no EU trade deals will ever be implemented before MEPs get to vote on them.

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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