European Parliament Rejects the Inclusion of Health in the TTIP Talks
On April 14th 2015 Members of the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) approved an Opinion on recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). They voted in favour of the exclusion of five health-related topics from the TTIP negotiations between the EU and the United States.
According to the approved opinion, the five areas that the MEPs want to be excluded from the TTIP talks –with 59 votes to eight and two abstentions- are:
- Public health services
- Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)
- The use of hormones in the bovine sector
- Chemical legislation REACH and its implementation
The opinion calls for the respect of the “precautionary principle” in regulatory cooperation, and opposes the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), an instrument that grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government.
The precautionary principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.
While the precautionary principle is used in both the US and EU in practice, it is an integrated component of EU risk management and regulations, while in the US it is not a component endorsed in policymaking.
The opinion also highlights that other substantial differences related to food and farming in the EU and the US need to be taken into account in the negotiations, for example when dealing with scientific uncertainty and risk assessment.
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