This summer negotiations between the EU and U.S. about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) commenced. The objective of the negotiations is to reach an agreement to make trade easier between both sides of the Atlantic. EU and US consumer groups are, however, very sceptical that a trade agreement which is built around regulatory convergence will serve consumer interests. A deal that dismantles existing EU and US consumer protection will be vigorously opposed.
In this year’s annual meeting the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) discussed the implications of the negotiations on consumers. A report provides a recap of the key issues of food, data protection, financial regulation and intellectual property rights which received special attention at this conference.
European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Neven Mimica, highlighted the benefits which the TTIP would bring consumers while underlining that these would not come at the expense of consumer safety or an erosion of standards. Consumer groups highlighted a lack of transparency in the negotiation-process. They called for access to negotiation documents as well as the possibility to provide meaningful input during the negotiations. Rhoda Karpatkin from Consumers Union highlighted that a trade agreement which touched upon all areas of interest for consumers – from food to chemicals to financial services – should not be negotiated behind closed doors by officials and then presented to legislators as “take it or leave it”.
Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Programme Director of the US Federation of Public Interest Research Groups (US PIRG) and U.S. Chair of the TACD argued: “Trade negotiators need to understand that corporate special interests have a plan to hijack their treaty and use it to undercut hard-fought, democratically approved privacy, food safety and other consumer rights unless their negotiations are transparent and strongly consider the views and needs of consumers on both sides of the pond”.
Recap of the TACD conference 2013:
EU and US consumer groups’ initial reaction to the announcement of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership