Zoltán Massay-Kosubek

Genval, 27th January 2016 – While attending yesterday the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) conference on the precautionary principle in the context of the Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the European Union and the United States, I have noted quite a few funny statements which made me think further. Here are some of them.

What did the Trade Commissioner Cécilia Malmström (not) say about Generic Medicines?

Right at the beginning, Commissioner Malmström delivered a speech the written form of which was published shortly after, following the usual Commission protocol, which is ok. But then, the publication of the new EU proposal on regulatory cooperation on generic medicines was announced, as if the Commissioner would have announced it during the conference. However, according to participants, no mention was found in her written speech, nor could participants remember that it was announced. Strange.

Exclusion of sensitive sectors (environment, public health) from TTIP?

That idea emerged even twice during the debate. First a reference was made to the so-called tobacco carve-out in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a multilateral Trade and Investment agreement which covers 12 Pacific States including the US, Japan and Australia – which is a clause excluding tobacco related claims from the scope of the Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement MEchanism (ISDS). However, the point was rightly made that tobacco is just one risk factor of many chronic diseases and in order to protect public health, a more general protection is needed.

Then in the final panel, several speakers – including the US TACD co-chair – came to a similar conclusion:

The US Deputy Ambassador’s views on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Climate Change, transparency and the conclusion of negotiations in 2016

One of the most attended part of the day was the speech of Michael Punke, US Deputy Trade Representative who shared his vision of Free Trade. Here are a couple of them. There are _not_ word-by-word quotations but the key messages of his speech):

– ‘Regulation should be based on science and as there is no scientific proof that GMOs are harmful, they should be allowed and the consumers can decide if they want consume them or not. If people do not think GMOs are safe, it is like if people did not believe in Climate change.’

– ‘The full text of TPP is published which is a good indication for US negotiation goals for TTIP. As soon as the TTIP is concluded, it will be also published.’

– The US has selected specific advisors (cca 600), who had to get clearance and who now have access to US-EU negotiations texts. These advisors include not only business but consumer, environment and other representatives.

– ‘TTIP will be concluded in 2016.’

I have heard many mor strange statements which could not necessarly be included into my public diary, but interested readers can always have a look at #TACDFORUM and also at the ‘storify’ summary of the event.

And what is my conclusion? Well, more or less the same what the moderator said during the final panel discussion for the TTIP chief Negotiatior Ignacio Garcia-Bercera: “This Morning, the Commissioner said that TTIP will not lower standards. You have said now the same. But look at them (pointing at the audiance)! They are not convinced!”

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