US, EU negotiators to meet for 7th round of TTIP talks

By Jared Angle

American and European trade representatives will meet next week for a seventh round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a prospective free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union.

The negotiations, which will take place outside Washington, are scheduled to last from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, according to the European Commission.

The entrance to Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission, in Brussels.
The entrance to Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission, in Brussels. Photo by Jared Angle.

The US is the EU’s largest trading partner; in 2011, the EU exported €250 billion in goods and services to the US and imported €187 billion.[1] With the tariff reductions and other market liberalization features in a prospective TTIP agreement, trade volume and job growth would increase significantly for both economies.

During the upcoming round of talks, automobile safety regulations will be reviewed, and data protection and regulation of US fossil fuel exports may also be discussed, according to German MEP Klaus Buchner, a substitute member of the international trade committee in Parliament.

Anti-TTIP/CETA group takes trade fight to top EU court

The European Citizens’ Initiative Against TTIP and CETA, a pan-European coalition of citizens groups opposing both transatlantic free trade deals, submitted a petition to the European Court of Justice on Sept. 19 to block the trade talks, German news agency Deutsche Welle reported.

The move came after the European Commission’s rejected the ECI’s push for greater transparency in TTIP negotiations.

Composed of groups representing environmental, economic and consumer protection interests, the ECI has considerable support from the Greens/European Free Alliance political group in the European Parliament.

Much of the current opposition to TTIP is directed toward investment protection and investment-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which would force the EU to forfeit “basic democratic rights,” according to Buchner, a member of the Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei and the Greens/EFA group.

ISDS allows investors to sue governments if that government seizes an investment or passes restrictive legislation that otherwise undermines an investment and subsequently fails to compensate the investor for their financial loss, according to a Commission factsheet.

Local authorities would be particularly threatened by potential corporate lawsuits under ISDS, Buchner said.

A potential lawsuit against the Commission over the handling of TTIP negotiations will take some time to progress through the EU legal system, but it will not be a unique undertaking. The case was preceded by a failed 2011 lawsuit relating to discrimination and secrecy in EU-India trade talks, which sought to block the Commission from withholding trade information from the public.

[1] Simon Hix and Bjørn Høyland, The Political System of the European Union (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), 306.

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