TTIP: EU member state legislative initiatives will have to be vetted for potential impacts on private business interests
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TTIP: EU member state legislative initiatives will have to be vetted for potential impacts on private business interests

This is according to a new leaked European Commission proposal in the ongoing EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The proposal forms part of a wider plan for so-called “regulatory cooperation”.

The revelations come in the wake of ongoing protests against TTIP, including street demos across Europe at the weekend.

Civil society groups have already denounced earlier iterations of this plan as being a “tool to stop or roll back” regulation intended to protect the public interest.

The new elements in the leaked proposal expand the problem, it is claimed.

Civil society groups have condemned the “regulatory exchange” plan as an “affront” to parliamentary democracy.

“This is an insult to citizens, elected politicians and democracy itself”, says Max Bank of the Brussels-based Lobby Control.

It says that the “regulatory exchange” proposal will force laws drafted by democratically-elected politicians through an extensive screening process.

This process, it is said, will occur throughout the 78 states, not just in Brussels and Washington DC.

Laws will be evaluated on whether or not they are compatible with the economic interests of major companies. Responsibility for this screening will lie with the ‘regulatory cooperation body, a “permanent, undemocratic, and unaccountable” conclave of European and American technocrats.

Kenneth Haar of Corporate Europe Observatory, a pressure group based in Brussels, said, “Both the Commission and US authorities will be able to exert undue pressure on governments and politicians under this measure as these powerful players are parachuted into national legislative procedures. The two are also very likely to share the same agenda: upholding the interests of multinationals.”

Further comment came from Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe, who said, “The Commission proposal introduces a system that puts every new environmental, health, labour, and standard at European and member state level at risk. It creates a labyrinth of red tape for regulators, to be paid by the tax payer, that undermines their appetite to adopt legislation in the public interest.”

He said screening under the regulatory exchange plan could take place from before a proposal is formally tabled until it is adopted, and on existing regulations, providing continuous opportunities to weaken and delay regulatory acts.

“What’s perhaps most scary about this proposal is its potential application to existing regulation – not just paralyzing future legislation but sending us backward,” says David Azoulay at the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

“Not only will it extend an outrageously burdensome process on future legislation, but any current legislation in the public interest that doesn’t sit well with trade interests on either side of the Atlantic could be subjected to the same process to make it conform to corporate interests.”

By Martin Banks