Brussels Sets Up Advisory Body for TTIP Negotiations

Written by | Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The EU Commission has recently established an advisory group that should help advance the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States. According to the official statement of the Commission, the creation of the advisory group of experts shows the commitment of the Commission to finalize the mutual dialogue with the best outcomes for European citizens.
The advisory body consists of 14 experts from various backgrounds, such as business groupings, labour unions, and consumers. The role of the advisors will be to provide the TTIP talks with such a framework that will enable Brussels to push forward high standards of consumer and environmental protection. This is already the second step that the Commission took in favour of transparency and avoidance of replaying the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – a controversial multi-lateral treaty aiming to establish international standards for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The ACTA was rejected by the EU Parliament after it had been approved by all EU members. Last week, Brussels also decided to put off talks on a so-called investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
The investor-state dispute legislation provides EU- and US-based corporations with the possibility to lodge claims of private stakeholders directly against respective governments. The original proposal of the Commission enabled US firms investing in the EU member states to bypass European courts as well as directly lodge lawsuits against their governments at international courts in any area concerning the infringement of their rights to do business due to social, environmental, and public health considerations. Under the Commission’s proposal, the EU businesses investing abroad would have been given the same rights in the United States.
In the meantime, the EU has also published a non-paper that seeks the inclusion of financial services in TTIP. Paraphrasing Karel Lanoo of the Center for European Policy Studies, the inclusion of financial services could enhance the regulatory framework of consumer and investor protection in both the EU and US, which would be in line with the G20 objectives to equalize regimes across the Atlantic. Moreover, many Europeans think that the Union can fully benefit from the TTIP agreement only when the financial sector is included. In contrast, most Americans are hesitant.

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