EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Maelstrom has described as “myths” concerns raised by Slow Food Ireland about the negative impact on high food standards of ongoing TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations between the EU and the US.
In a letter to Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, the Commissioner thoroughly refutes the concerns raised by the movement.
Ms.McGuinness said. “The Commissioner clearly states she is fully committed to retaining the ‘precautionary principle’ which is written into EU Treaties.
“I welcome the Commissioner’s strong reassurance on this point and also her statement that the EU’s farm-to-fork approach will not be challenged by TTIP. She has stated categorically that the discussions on harmonising our EU food regulations with those of the US are focused on cutting regulatory duplication rather than anything more fundamental. And she highlights distinct differences between what she terms ‘distinct social choices’ and those which exist only because the systems are different and in practice could be made more coherent.
“In the latter case she cites the example of a fabric designer having to undertake two sets of flammability tests, or EU and US inspectors having to carry out identical inspections of the same pharmaceutical factory. The aim is to make it simpler for companies to comply with both EU and US rules.”
Ms McGuinness said on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) or a pathogen reduction treatment or hormone fed meat nothing in a TTIP agreement would change the way these are prohibited or regulated by the EU.
Acknowledging that the Commission is aware that competition from some US products under full liberalisation of EU US trade could adversely impact some EU agricultural products the Commissioner tells Ms McGuinness: “In these cases, instead of full liberalisation we would negotiate import quotas, as we have in other such agreements.”
On the controversial Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), issue the Commissioner says: “I have already come to the conclusion that the traditional ISDS system has had its day” and that reform proposals are intended “to ensure that there is absolutely no doubt as regards legislators ‘right to regulate, and to ensure that arbitral tribunals operate more like traditional courts, with a clear code of conduct for arbitrators and with access to the system.”
“The Commission remains fully accountable to EU Member States and to the European Parliament throughout the negotiating process,” the Commissioner concludes.