What do the leaked EU-US trade documents tell us?

New details emerged about a mammoth free trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States on Monday when the environmental group Greenpeace leaked 248 pages of classified documents on the state of play.

While the EU has made much of its negotiation position public, the documents offer unprecedented insight into Washington's demands.

But Brussels has argued that it would be wrong to jump to conclusions about the final Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, since the leak only reveals what each side would like to achieve and not what the outcome would be.

Here are some of the key details from Monday's leak:

- GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOs)

GMOs have traditionally met with strong public resistance in Europe due to health and environmental concerns, but are widely cultivated in the US.

According to the leaked text, Washington wants both sides to work on managing the low-level presence of GMOs in agricultural produce, to "reduce unnecessary disruptions" to trade. The US also wants a GMO approval procedure with clear timelines and explanations if these are not met.

Friends of the Earth Germany says the proposals would make it "almost impossible" to stick to existing EU principles, warning that banned GMOs - as well as hormone-treated meat and food containing traces of harmful chemicals - could make it into the EU market undetected.

But the EU's lead TTIP negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, insisted Monday that the bloc had made no change whatsoever in its position, stressing: "We have made crystal clear that we would not agree on anything that implies changes of our regulatory regime on GMOs."

- HUMAN, ANIMAL, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION RULES

Greenpeace warns that the EU is dropping its precautionary principle - which allows for action against possible dangers to human, animal or plant health, or the environment - in favour of the US risk-based approach under which products can only be withdrawn if they are proven to be harmful.

The assessment is based on the fact that the leaked text contains no mention of the precautionary principle. But Garcia Bercero said this basic EU principle would be "fully" maintained, adding that there was nothing in the document to support Greenpeace's interpretation.

- CAR INDUSTRY TARIFFS VERSUS AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS

The leaked text suggests that the US had pressured the bloc to remove tariffs on its agricultural products, using access to its car market as a bargaining chip. Washington had said that "progress on motor vehicle-related parts would only be possible if the EU showed progress in the discussion on agricultural tariffs," according to a state-of-play document dated March 2016.

Garcia Bercero played this down, saying that his counterparts simply wanted to know more on the EU's readiness to discuss agricultural issues.

Automotive and agricultural tariffs are both sensitive issues that are "only likely to be solved in the endgame of the negotiations," he added.

- INDUSTRY CLOUT

Greenpeace concluded from the leaked documents that companies had a "privileged voice in important decisions" relating to TTIP, referring to sections where negotiators cite the need to consult with industry. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom responded in a blog post that industry reactions are taken into account, but added that "exactly the same applies to submissions by trade unions, consumer groups or health or environmental organisations."

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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