40 arrested in Brussels after protesters attack TTIP negotiators – with confetti (VIDEO)
The latest round of negotiations of the under-threat trade agreement between the US and the EU is suffering from pressure both, outside and inside the negotiating room, with latest leaks showing that it will scupper existing environmental legislation.
Early on Thursday morning, about 200 people blocked the entrance to the Brussels conference center, where over 100 officials are conducting the 14th round of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) this week.
The demonstrators played drums, chanted, and carried a banner proclaiming, ‘No more deals in the dark,’ in reference to the secret nature of the negotiations.
As American and European representatives attempted to make their way through the crowd, the protesters began to pelt the uncomfortable officials with confetti. Police intervened, and those responsible for the symbolic gesture were escorted off under guard, to loud cheers from the others.
"First of all it is an anti-democratic treaty in its form, since no population has given the mandate to those negotiators. It is also an economic catastrophe where thousands of jobs will disappear in Europe and in the USA. We want a just trade agreement, not a free one," Martin Guerard, spokesman of the Anti-TTIP platform, told RT.
Latest draft lets members drop environmental pledges
While supposedly an international treaty, TTIP will, in fact, force both sides to profoundly alter their own domestic legislation to comply, and a recent leaked draft, dated to June, shows potential circumventions of previous environmental commitments.
In May, G7 pledged to remove fossil fuel subsidies, accounting for up to $200 billion a year, by 2025.
But the TTIP draft claims that the timeline should be more flexible, as “such a phasing out may take into account security of supply considerations and be accompanied by measures to alleviate the social consequences associated with the phasing out.”
On the other hand, subsidies of environmentally-friendly energy sources are discouraged.
The treaty draft says that “the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” needs to be balanced against a desire to “limit distortions of trade as much as possible.”
The point is made elsewhere in the document, where it says that energy policy decisions should be made "on commercial terms that are reasonable, transparent and non-discriminatory, including as between types of energy."
Another potential proposal shows that energy companies should replace oversight with self-regulation, "where such self-regulation is likely to deliver the policy objectives faster or in a less costly manner than mandatory requirements.”
The language of the treaty contains little detail and remains open to interpretation, while the treaty itself is under threat from France’s lack of enthusiasm, and UK’s decision to exit the European Union. But environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth, and Green politicians.
"This leak has again reinforced the widespread fear that the EU-US TTIP negotiations are being used to create a framework for corporations to sidestep EU rules on health, consumer protection and the environment," Claude Turmes, a Luxembourgish Green MEP told Deutsche Welle.
"Democratically-decided EU rules and standards are non-negotiable, and the commission needs to defend the European interest and make this clear,” he added.
The EU TTIP negotiating team later published its own excerpt from the draft, claiming that it rebuffs the environmentalists' accusations.