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Companies must not get more rights than people in EU-US trade deal.
 11.03.2014 17:45:32
Companies must not get more rights than people in EU US trade deal

A new round of talks between the EU and US on a transatlantic trade agreement opens today in Brussels amid growing public concern and opposition.

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:

                     any form of investor-to-State dispute settlement mechanism

                     food safety measures

                     any attempt to compromise democracy, safety, and key pillars of EU regulations such as the polluter-pays and the precautionary principles

                     any attempt to de-regulate polluting industries, harmonise safety or product standards downwards, and limit future legislation to protect people or the environment.


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