Health Care Without Harm Europe has joined the coalition of over 40 supporters raising awareness of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and chemicals. We are adding our support to European efforts to protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals.
Two weeks ago, during the 13th round of the TTIP negotiations in New York, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) launched the new campaign. As part of the launch, CIEL, HEAL, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), and ClientEarth sent a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström urging her to ensure aspects of the EU deregulatory agenda are not codified in TTIP.
HCWH Europe's Statement
Whilst HCWH Europe understands the discretion required in trade negotiations, we deplore the lack of transparency towards civil society, the EU’s elected representatives, and the NGO community. However, the need for confidentiality does not appear to extend to private corporate interests. This has recently been attested by the leaked Tactical State of Play document, which refers to the privileged access of private corporate interests which are being consulted.
Like most affected parties, we are concerned that the general exemption, or 'carve-out', for services provided "in the exercise of governmental authority", that is allegedly included in the draft agreement, might not be enough of a guarantee to help safeguard high quality healthcare in the EU. For example, it is unclear whether EU healthcare systems will be exempt from market access and national treatment provisions.
"It appears that environmental concerns
will not be given appropriate consideration"
Whatever the final agreement states regarding exempted services, HCWH Europe believes that the enforcement measures put forward in TTIP risk curtailing a Member State’s freedom to pursue democratically approved policies.
Indeed, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which by-passes countries´ judicial systems, could turn out to be on the expensive side for parties in breach of the agreement. As for the dispute settlement between the parties, it also appears, from the leaked documents, that environmental concerns will not be given appropriate consideration.
More fundamentally, HCWH Europe has serious reservations on the compatibility of the EU and US approach with regards to hazardous chemicals. The precautionary principle, embedded in REACH, informs the EU’s regulatory approach to hazardous chemicals, with the objective of removing these chemicals from the market altogether. From what we can gather, the US chemical industry is aiming to improve the management of these substances, not ridding the market of the risk they pose.
It would be ill-guided to encourage trade or investment at the expense of EU or national standards, policies or legislation; especially if these are aimed at safeguarding high quality healthcare and healthcare systems. TTIP should not prevent the Union or Member States from maintaining existing or adopting new standards, policies, and legislation to this end.
HCWH Europe believes that only an agreement that unambiguously respects both environmental and health principles and rules, established by EU legislation and Member States’ laws, should be considered - to maintain a higher standard of protection from exposure to chemicals in all sectors, including healthcare.