Chemical Watch | 3 October 2014
TTIP chief negotiators address regulatory concerns
Focus on cooperation not harmonisation
The chief negotiators from Europe and the US have directly addressed concerns that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks are aimed at weakening chemical regulation, saying that ideas of harmonisation, or schedule alignment, are and have been off the table since the beginning.
"There are many things our negotiators can do other than harmonisation or mutual recognition to reduce costs to consumers and businesses and to help regulators do their jobs better," US chief negotiator Dan Mullaney said at a press conference ending a week of meetings in Washington, DC.
The negotiations concluded their seventh round, with lead negotiators reviewing proposals both sides have put out. Mr Mullaney called the talks "positive and constructive".
The chief negotiator from the EU, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, also addressed criticism that the partnership could weaken the implementation of European regulations or environmental health standards. He said his side had presented a paper outlining how the two sides could work together without compromising either regulatory regime’s standards.
The paper illustrates "how it is possible to have co-operation between regulators on both sides when it comes to prioritisation, and how this can be done in full respect of the deadlines which are established under the EU regulation," said Mr Bercero.
"There is no question whatsoever about harmonising… it is absolutely off the table and has been off the table from the beginning of these discussions," he added. "What we are looking for are tactical ways in which regulators can co-operate with each other, but doing that in a manner that in no way delays the process of implementing our laws."
In May, the European Commission released a position paper stating that because REACH and the US Toxic Substances Control Act “differ significantly”, neither harmonisation nor mutual recognition are feasible (CW 15 May 2014).
At the press conference, Mr Bercero also said his side presented a more informal paper looking at "some ideas about how different issues we are discussing in the chemical sector could be a part of a chemical annex in this agreement."
He stressed this was an informal proposal (CW 2 October 2014).