Europe wants the US to commit to high environmental and social standards, as part of the planned TTIP agreement. EURACTIV Germany reports.
According to a German newspaper report, this is part of a previously undisclosed proposal that the European Commission discussed with the member states and wants to present at the next round of negotiations on 19 October.
Regarding “trade and sustainable development”, Europe wants the EU and the US to have the right to establish environmental and social protection at a level that each deem appropriate. This is according to information acquired by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
However, Europe wants to prevent the US from weakening environmental or social standards so that they can export to Europe more cheaply.
Additionally, the EU wants the US to commit to the principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which regulate the right to employee representation and are intended to prevent forced and child labour, as well as discrimination in the workplace. The US has only ratified two of the eight fundamental ILO conventions. US trade unions complain that the southern states would complicate matters by striking.
Furthermore, the EU wants the US to adhere to international standards on chemicals and waste, which Washington has not yet ratified. According to the report, the EU has not pursued such far-reaching proposals on environmental and social protection before in trade agreements.
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The trade agreement negotiations were begun in July 2013 and are not expected to be finalised before 2016. The intention of the agreement is that a free trade zone, incorporating the removal of trade tariffs and barriers, be established between the two parties. However, its critics, of which there are many, fear a decrease in environmental and social standards, as well as having cultural concerns.
In Berlin on Saturday (12 October), a reported 250,000 people took part in an anti-TTIP and anti-CETA protest.
Berlin police said that there were around 150,000 people at the rally, which was carried out peacefully. “This is the largest demonstration to be carried out in this country for many, many years,” said Christoph Bautz, head of the citizen movement Campact.