About TTIP Leaks

  1. What kind of documents has Greenpeace Netherlands released?
    Greenpeace Netherlands has released about half of the draft text as of April 2016, prior to the start of the 13th round of TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US (New York, 25-29 April 2016). As far as we know the final document will consist of 25 to 30 chapters and many extensive annexes. Of the documents released by Greenpeace Netherlands, in total 248 pages, 13 chapters offer for the first time the position of the US.
  2. What are the main findings in the documents?
    From an environmental and consumer protection point of view it is a serious concern that long standing environmental protections appear to be dropped None of the chapters we have seen reference the General Exceptions rule. This nearly 70-year-old rule enshrined in the GATT agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), allows nations to regulate trade “to protect human, animal and plant life or health” or for “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources”. The omission of this regulation suggests both sides are creating a regime that places profit ahead of human, animal and plant life and health. The precautionary principle, enshrined in the EU Treaty, is not mentioned in the chapter on Regulatory Cooperation, nor in any other of the obtained 12 chapters. On the other hand the US demand for a ‘risk based’ approach that aims to manage hazardous substances rather than avoid them, finds its way into various chapters. This approach undermines the ability of regulators to take preventive measures, for example regarding controversial substances like hormone disrupting chemicals.
  3. How did Greenpeace Netherlands get these documents?
    Greenpeace Netherlands will not disclose the origins of the documents. The original text has been typed again and obvious spelling and grammar errors, possibly put there deliberately as markers to identify the origin in case of a leak, have been removed. Other apparent textual or formatting-related markers were removed as well. None of these adjustments have altered the content of the text in any way.
  4. Are the documents complete?
    All of the documents in possession of Greenpeace Netherlands are complete.The documents represent a substantial part of the negotiating texts, 13 of 17 chapters believed to have reached the consolidation phase of negotiations.Chapters believed to be in the consolidation phase, but not in possession of Greenpeace Netherlands, are those concerning e-commerce, financial services, rules of origin and trade remedies.Chapters which are not yet believed to have reached the consolidation phase, also not in possession of Greenpeace Netherlands, are those covering: energy and raw materials, investment protection, intellectual property rights, legal and institutional issues, subsidies, sustainable development, textiles and apparel, and other sectors.
  5. How do you know the documents are genuine?
    After receiving the documents both Greenpeace Netherlands and Rechercheverbund NDR, WDR und Süddeutsche Zeitung, a renowned German investigative research partnership, have analysed them and compared them to existing documents. The Rechercheverbund, which consists of different German media, has covered, amongst other big stories, the Snowden leaks and the Volkswagen emissions scandals.
  6. Could I see the original documents?
    Greenpeace Netherlands does not offer access to the original documents, as they most probably contain ‘markers’ in the form of deliberate typos or formatting, put there to identify the origin of the documents in case of a leak.
  7. Why did Greenpeace Netherlands choose to release the documents?
    Greenpeace Netherlands has released the documents to facilitate a proper democratic debate about the texts. The secrecy surrounding the negotiating process goes against the democratic principles of both the EU and the US. There has been worldwide criticism about the refusal to reveal what is being negotiated under TTIP, including by the European Ombudsman. Although some EU document have been disclosed, they were frequently incomplete and out of date by the time they were released. US negotiators disclose almost nothing at all.Even members of the European Parliament (who will vote to adopt or reject the final agreement) and national parliamentarians (who are also likely to vote on the final deal) have only limited and strictly restricted access to so-called consolidated negotiating texts in special reading rooms. Every negotiating round takes place behind closed doors and joint EU-US press conferences on TTIP are devoid of real content. Consultations with civil society and stakeholder meetings are little more than content-free formalities.Any improvement in transparency must fulfil at least the following principles: greater public access to EU and US negotiating documents; more active disclosure of documents; more balanced and transparent public participation throughout the negotiating process.
  8. Isn’t leaking these confidential documents harmful to the negotiations?
    Greenpeace Netherlands released the documents to facilitate a proper democratic debate about the texts. The secrecy surrounding the negotiating process is harmful to the democratic ground principles of both the EU and the US.

About TTIP

  1. What does TTIP stand for and what is it about?
    TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is potentially the world’s biggest trade deal, meant to cover trade between the EU and the US economies, which account for about half of the entire world’s GDP and nearly a third of world trade flows. TTIP would affect pretty much every sector of the economy, from farming to textiles, and IT to services. (The only sector formally excluded from negotiations – as requested by the French government – is the film and music industry.) The aim of the agreement is to remove any remaining obstacles to trade between the EU and the US, and to protect foreign investments above all else.Healthcare and working conditions are already in the firing line, as are financial regulation and environmental protection. TTIP would also allow multinational corporations to sue governments in special courts to challenge what they see as regulations restricting their investments. A TTIP agreement would lead to job losses, a reduction in living standards and the pollution of the environment, disrupting the lives of millions on both sides of the Atlantic [see questions 4, 8 and 14].
  2. What are the environmental risks associated with TTIP?
    European countries have enjoyed relatively good safeguards to protect citizens and nature against environmental threats like toxic pollution or chemical contamination. In some cases the EU has inspired other countries to improve their standards. But TTIP negotiations can open up a race to the bottom in the name of free trade.By harmonising rules and regulations with the US, and by protecting the rights of investors above all else, TTIP would actually undermine the right for governments to adopt or enforce policies that are in the public interest. It would also allow multinational corporations to pick and choose the weakest rules on either side of the Atlantic, and force the other side to lower its rules. Here are some of the areas where TTIP is in particular a threat to the environment.Climate and energy
    TTIP negotiators have already listed the following EU rules as technical barriers” to trade: energy efficiency labels; fuel efficiency standards for cars; sustainable public procurement policies; regulation of unconventional fossil fuel extraction, including shale gas and tar sands; sustainability standards for bio-energy; and the banning of climate-damaging f-gases in appliances such as refrigerators and freezers.TTIP would undermine efforts to strengthen Europe’s policies to combat climate change and boost renewables and energy efficiency. An agreement would also stimulate imports and exports of fossil fuels – like shale gas from fracking or oil from tar sands – while clean energy production for local communities and associations would be considered unfair competition and a barrier to trade.

    The chemicals industry claims that Europe’s protection against toxic chemicals – for example through the REACH directive (the EU’s premier regulation to register and restrict toxic substances) or the pesticides regulation – is the largest trade barrier for US manufacturing. The US government has maintained this position for a long time, saying in 2014 that the EU’s laws “are discriminatory, lack a legitimate rationale, and pose unnecessary obstacles to trade”.

    REACH requires companies that want to market a chemical in the EU to prove that it is safe (or to use alternatives). The default approach under US law is that all chemicals are safe, unless proven otherwise. The EU bans thousands of chemicals that are harmful to the environment or health in cleaning products, cosmetics, paints, clothes, and electrical appliances. The US is much more lax, with only a handful of chemicals banned.

    TTIP negotiations even had a ‘chilling effect’ on efforts in Europe to regulate a new category of chemicals, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can cause cancer and reproductive diseases, and are particularly harmful to children. EU regulation of EDCs had been repeatedly delayed, despite clear evidence of harm. Several EU countries criticised the Commission for its lack of action. In December 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Commission had in fact “breached EU law” by failing to act.

    Food, pesticides and GM crops One of the fundamental threats from TTIP in Europe is that the burden of proof on whether a product is safe or not could be shifted to fall on public authorities, not on those who seek to sell it. This is the general approach in the US. Under such a system, a pesticide that is scientifically linked to cancer could still be approved, unless there is a 100 per cent consensus on its harmful effects.

    Another area of concern is the use of antibiotics for farm animals. This practice is common to industrial livestock farming on both sides of the Atlantic, but is particularly prevalent in the US. It is a major cause of resistance to antibiotics among humans.

  3. Is the Commission’s new Investment Court System better than ISDS?
    Not really. The European Commission has tried to improve something that simply cannot be fixed. Its Investment Court System institutionalises a privileged judicial system for foreign investors, which bypasses national courts. Fundamentally, the system is very similar to ISDS.

    The Commission’s proposal also fails to address many of the fundamental concerns raised by the European Parliament in its resolution of 8 July 2015, where it says it wants “to replace the ISDS system with a new system for resolving disputes between investors and states”.

    ICS preserves preferential treatment for foreign investors over local businesses. The ICS court is not a real court and the judges are not real judges – they are not permanently assigned to the court and can still act as lawyers for corporate clients, raising serious conflict of interest concerns. ICS also flouts democratic principles and the right for governments and institutions to adopt and enforce laws. The court would have the power to force a state to compensate investors whose profits it believes are constrained by regulation. An indirect ‘chilling effect’ would be to discourage public authorities from enforcing public interest safeguards for fear that they could be challenged.

  4. What would be the economic advantages of a comprehensive EU-US trade agreement?
    The truth is that nobody really knows. Economic gains have been greatly exaggerated ahead of pretty much every previous trade agreement. In many cases, trade deals lead to job losses. As many as a million jobs were lost in the US as a result of the NAFTA agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico. TTIP could also cause at least one million job losses in the EU and US combined.

    Many studies have been published on the potential effects of TTIP on the economy. An optimistic economic forecast carried out for the European Commission says an “ambitious and comprehensive” TTIP deal would translate into economic gains of €119 billion for the EU and €95 billion for the US, after ten years. This means €11.9 billion annually, or €54.5 for each European family. The annual GDP increase would be 0.05 per cent. Even these meagre figures rely on a rosy outlook for the European economy. In any case, economists warn that empirical economic analysis of the effects of a future deal, with proper modelling, is almost impossible

  5. What is Greenpeace’s alternative to TTIP?
    The global trade regime should shift away from liberalisation to sustainable development. To achieve this, international trading rules should promote environmental, social and human well-being. A redesigned trade system should set the conditions for peace, security and solidarity, protecting the public interest against threats to health, the environment and human rights. It should be democratic and inclusive, and not grant privileged treatment for multinational corporations, but guarantee their accountability through the enforceable protection of human and social rights, and the environment.process.

  6. Opposition to TTIP might slow its completion, but is a deal inevitable?
    Not at all. There are various reasons why a deal might never materialise. First of all, TTIP is not the first attempt to conclude a deal: big business has been pushing for a deal since the 1990s, and previous attempts by the US and Europe to reach an agreement on trade or investment were never completed.

    Secondly, the EU and the US are entangled in a complex web of trade treaties with conflicting provisions and differing timelines. The US has recently signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, while the EU and Canada are finalising the CETA agreement. Canada is also a party to the TPP agreement. TPP and CETA have been agreed but are yet to be ratified. These treaties include a controversial mechanism known as ISDS, allowing foreign corporations to sue sovereign national governments if they believe their investments are unfairly restricted by regulations. For TTIP, the EU is backing an alternative mechanism – but which raises similar concerns – known as the Investment Court System (ICS). The EU would like to include this new system in the CETA agreement. This would leave Canadian investors with different mechanism in different treaties. The US has so far rejected ICS. The European Parliament – who will have to sign off the agreement – has instead demanded a system to replace ISDS.

  7. What would happen if the EU and US failed to agree a deal?
    Nothing much. Trade and investment between the EU and the US has been increasing for decades without a bilateral trade agreement. There is no reason to assume that without TTIP it would not continue to do so, while existing environmental, health and labour standards would remain in place. Nonetheless, a number of multinational corporations are likely to be upset, as TTIP would significantly increase their power and influence over governments and citizens.


  8. What is regulatory cooperation and why is it a threat?
    So-called regulatory cooperation is one of the biggest threats from TTIP. The European Commission claims regulatory cooperation will cut bureaucracy for EU companies and reduce costs associated with having to comply with different rules in the EU and the US. It says it wants to harmonise rules and standards between the two blocs, without lowering EU levels of protection for people’s health, the environment or consumer rights. The recent documents however show that regulatory cooperation could lead to an immense bureaucratic and administrative burden. It puts access to the market above standards and regulations that protect citizens and the environment, as the Commission’s TTIP proposal makes clear.

  9. Is Greenpeace anti-trade?
    No. Removing unnecessary ‘barriers’ to trade is not in itself a problem. But when these barriers help guarantee clean water and healthy food, renewable energy, or decent working conditions, they should be safeguarded. Trade should not be promoted to guarantee profits for multinational corporations. For example, it is unacceptable to give private companies special legal rights that bypass established court systems and fly in the face of democratic sovereignty. Corporations should be subject to the same rules and courts as citizens and governments. Trade agreements must serve people and the public interest.

  10. Americans have been growing and eating GM crops for years. Why do you not want GMOs in Europe?
    Genetically engineering the food we eat is an inherently risky process. US law makes no significant distinction between genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and conventional farming. The US also has no requirements for labelling of food that contains GMOs, unlike the EU. This means that it is virtually impossible to isolate the long-term effects of GM food on human and animal health. But there is clear evidence of the environmental dangers of GM crops. GMO contamination is a major issue: the spreading of genes that make plants resistant to weedkillers is creating super-resistant weeds in many US regions.

    So far, Europe has been relatively sheltered from these effects. Public opposition is strong, GMOs are hardly grown in the EU, and their release into the food chain is governed by safety regulations (which are far from perfect). US biotech multinationals are the major supporters of a TTIP treaty.