A new round of talks between the EU and US on a transatlantic
trade agreement opens today in Brussels amid growing public concern and
Public resistance is particularly focused on a controversial
clause which could give foreign companies the right to sue governments. Friends
of the Earth Europe is calling for the harmful
and undemocratic 'investor-state dispute settlement' mechanism to be excluded from any deal.
In reaction to strong criticism the European Commission has
announced that it will start a public consultation on this mechanism.
A new report published last week (March 6) shows how the
'investor-state dispute settlement' mechanism would be likely to lead to the
expansion of fracking. It would be much harder for countries to ban or impose
strong regulations on fracking for shale
gas and other unconventional fossil fuels, for fear of having to pay
hundreds of millions in compensation.
Commenting at the opening of this week's talks Magda
Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Public
scrutiny of these negotiations and the dangers they pose is rightly growing. We
are monitoring this secretive process as best we can and will not stand for any
deal which does not build a better future or which gives corporations more
rights than citizens. The excessive rights for foreign investors being proposed
are a direct attack on democracy and must be rejected."
“'People are rightly concerned about the threat posed by the
investment chapter of the EU-US trade deal,” said Erich Pica, President
of Friends of the Earth United States. “It could
not only undermine years of hard-won environmental protections, but hamper the
ability of governments to defend their citizens against the damage that would
be caused by fracking and other dirty fossil fuel activities.”
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for increased transparency
in the talks and for the negotiating texts to be made public. It is calling for
the EU-US trade deal to specifically exclude:
form of investor-to-State dispute settlement mechanism
attempt to compromise democracy, safety, and key pillars of EU regulations –
such as the polluter-pays and the precautionary principles
attempt to de-regulate polluting industries, harmonise safety or product
standards downwards, and limit future legislation to protect people or the environment.