The European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) supported on Tuesday (April 14) an opinion that selected health-related areas should be excluded from the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. Members of the committee voted in favor of that proposal with 59 votes against 8 with 2 abstentions. The Committee wants to specifically exclude 5 areas – public health services, GMOs, chemical legislation REACH and its implementations, cloning, and the use of hormones in the bovine sector.
Belgium’s Green MEP, Bart Staes, said that he did not want to “compromise on democratically achieved regulations concerning food safety and public health” but he only wanted to get enough support across the political spectrum. “In order to be able to find a compromise and safeguard our shared criticisms, we must walk on a thin rope during negotiations,” he blogged. The ENVI generally opposes the controversial dispute settlement between investors and the state and supports the protection of the “precautionary principle” in regulatory cooperation and the increase in transparency.
The committee’s report underlines that other major differences related to agriculture and food in the EU and in the US have to be considered in the talks as well. The precautionary principle is an integral part of EU risk management but in the US it is not normally used in policy making. On the top of these issues, Mr Staes points out that animal welfare is also an issue in the United States, mostly related to farm animals at federal level, whereas the EU has an advanced and complex legislation protecting animal rights. This move comes in the wake of the 9th round of TTIP negotiation beginning on April 20. The talks will last for four days.