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TTIP leak could spell the end of controversial trade deal, say campaigners

Documents shed unprecedented light on controversial agreement, which includes provisions to allow US companies to help change European law and weaken consumer protections

Published 02/05/2016

Two women carry signs against the TTIP free trade agreement during a protest march against the upcoming G7 summit on June 4, 2015 in Munich, Germany. The leaders of the G7 nations are scheduled to meet at nearby Schloss Elmau June 7-8. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Two women carry signs against the TTIP free trade agreement during a protest march against the upcoming G7 summit on June 4, 2015 in Munich, Germany. The leaders of the G7 nations are scheduled to meet at nearby Schloss Elmau June 7-8. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Campaigners against the TTIP trade deal
Obama's trip to Europe has been seen as an effort to drum up support for TTIP before the end of his time in the White House AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of demonstrators protest against the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Hannover (AP)
MUNICH, GERMANY - JUNE 04: People demonstrating against the upcoming G7 summit carrier a banner that decries the TTIP free trade agreement during a protest march on June 4, 2015 in Munich, Germany. The leaders of the G7 nations are scheduled to meet at nearby Schloss Elmau June 7-8. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - JUNE 04: People wearing signs against the TTIP free trade agreement take a break during a protest march against the upcoming G7 summit on June 4, 2015 in Munich, Germany. The leaders of the G7 nations are scheduled to meet at nearby Schloss Elmau June 7-8. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Protesters against the trade deal marching in London

Hundreds of leaked pages from the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) show that the deal could be about to collapse, according to campaigners.

The huge leak – which gives the first full insight into the negotiations – shows that the relationship between Europe and the US are stronger than had been thought and that major divisions remain on some of the agreement’s most central provisions.

The talks have been held almost entirely in secret, and most information that is known in public has come out from unofficial leaks. But the new pages, leaked by Greenpeace, represent the first major look at how the highly confidential talks are progressing.

They indicate that the US is looking strongly to change regulation in Europe to lessen the protections on the environment, consumer rights and other positions that the EU affords to its citizens. Representatives for each side appear to have found that they have run into “irreconcilable” differences that could undermine the signing of the landmark and highly controversial trade deal, campaigners say.

For instance, the papers show that the US is looking to weaken the EU’s “precautionary principle” that governs how potentially harmful products are sold, Greenpeace says. The US has much weaker regulation that aims to minimise rather than avoid risks, and that same less strict regime could come to the UK and Europe under the deal.

If the EU made further changes to similar regulations, it would have to inform the US and corporations based there, according to the documents. American companies would then be able to have the same input into EU regulation as European ones do.

There are also notable missing parts of the agreement. None of the texts includes any reference to the global effort to cut CO2 emissions agreed in Paris last year, according to Greenpeace, despite a commitment from the European Commission that it would make environmental sustainability a key part of any deal.

Those who support TTIP argue that it represents an important step that will allow the US and EU to work together more closely and that it will support business in both regions. But parts of the deal and the secrecy that surrounds it have led campaigners to argue that it could include dangerous changes to the consumer protections that are guaranteed by the EU.

Poverty, environmental and other campaigners have claimed that the new leak could be enough to undermine those already controversial talks.

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"The TTIP negotiations will never survive this leak,” said John Hilary, the executive director of War on Want. “The only way that the European Commission has managed to keep the negotiations going so far is through complete secrecy as to the actual details of the deal under negotiation. Now we can see the details for ourselves, and they are truly shocking. This is surely the beginning of the end for this much hated deal."

Other campaigners criticised the fact that the only public information that has emerged about TTIP has come from leaks.

“TTIP is being cooked up behind closed doors because when ordinary people find out about the threat it poses to democracy and consumer protections, they are of course opposed to it,” said Guy Taylor, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now.

“It’s no secret that the negotiations have been on increasingly shaky ground. Millions of people across Europe have signed petitions against TTIP, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to call for an end to the negotiations. These leaks should be seen as another nail in the coffin of a toxic trade deal that corporate power is unsuccessfully trying to impose on ordinary people and our democracies.” 

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