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18 Mar, 2016 16:12

LEAKED: Big Business and Washington to have final say on EU trade laws under TTIP

LEAKED: Big Business and Washington to have final say on EU trade laws under TTIP

Unelected European Commission (EC) officials won’t be able to make new trade laws without asking Washington first, once the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) comes into force, a leaked document reveals.

A secret document obtained by the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) indicates that the EC will have the power to decide on how Brussels should cooperate with the US, while domestic governments and the European Parliament (EP) see power slip away from them.

Details of the leak, which were first published in The Independent on Friday, suggest that the EP's leverage on the international stage could lessen. The CEO says US regulators will take on a dubious role in European trade decisions under so-called “regulatory cooperation.” 

While EU leaders insist this would allow for the “cutting [of] red tape for EU firms without cutting corners,” the CEO rejects this argument. 

The pro-transparency think tank says the document uncovers the extent to which large corporations and industry groups will be able to influence TTIP with "substantial proposals.”

Speaking to RT on Friday, director of Global Justice Now (GJN) Nick Dearden said the leak was ominous.

“It absolutely confirms our fears about TTIP – it’s all about giving big business more power over a very wide range of laws and regulations,” he said.

“In fact, business lobbies are on record as saying they want to co-write laws with governments – this gets them a step closer."

“This isn’t an ‘add on’ or a small part of TTIP – it’s absolutely central. TTIP is about non-tariff trade barriers. To me and you that means regulation and laws, the vast majority of which aren’t ‘trade barriers’ unless you see society as nothing but a gigantic market place.” 

TTIP will create the world’s biggest free-trade zone, scrapping tariffs and other obstacles to the trade of goods and services between the US and Europe. Supporters insist the trade deal will encourage investment and create employment, while critics warn it could give too much power to big business.

An Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, central to the agreement, is expected give corporations the power to sue governments when policy-makers introduce regulations affecting profits.

“We’re talking about sovereignty...it’s difficult to imagine a more serious threat to our sovereignty than this trade deal,” Dearden said.

A spokesman for the EC defended TTIP, saying the CEO's allegations are unfounded. 

“These accusations are unfounded and are not reflected in the EU proposal for simplifying rules for EU exporters," he told RT. 

"The text on regulatory cooperation will be published soon for everyone to see that this so-called analysis is completely false, presents a biased view of the European Commission’s work and ignores the reality of EU texts. Regulators – not trade negotiators – will continue to lead regulatory cooperation initiatives – both in the EU and the US.”

Nevertheless, anti-TTIP campaigners across Britain and the wider EU remain dubious. They argue that the proposed EU-US trade deal lacks transparency, will impinge on sovereign governments’ right to rule in the public interest, and could result in regulators becoming captured.