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Regulatory cooperation under TTIP can help businesses and consumers. It cannot undermine lawmaking powers

March 18th, 2016

The European Commission’s proposals on regulatory cooperation with the US under the TTIP transatlantic trade deal have now been published here, adding to the many other TTIP-related documents already available. This is in line with the Commission’s commitment to enhanced transparency in the ongoing negotiations.

Suggestions in the Independent newspaper on 18 March that regulatory cooperation would somehow subvert the EU’s legislative independence and “leave EU member states and the European Parliament further sidelined” are completely false and unfounded. They ignore the reality of the way regulatory cooperation works,

No regulatory cooperation mechanism already in existence or under TTIP will have the power to take legally binding decisions. Those are for politicians.

No trade deals with other countries or groups of countries can somehow curtail or constrain the EU’s legislative procedures.

Regulatory cooperation with the United States does not begin with TTIP. It has been on the agenda for many years and aims to simplify rules for exporters. It is led by regulators and has produced good results in areas of common interest, ranging from aviation and marine safety to organic labels, electric cars and smart grids).

This sort of common work can get rid of small differences that can be costly for businesses – especially SMEs – and therefore for consumers, such as:

– the colour of wiring,

– the placing of clothing labels,

– unduly long approval processes for products which have already been tested and sold in Europe.

Further cooperation could help remove remove unnecessary duplication of factory inspections. It could lead to faster and better sharing of the results of medical trials, which could mean fewer risks for patients and faster approval of generic medicines.

Any cooperation is always voluntary, so both sides have to agree to work on it.

Such cooperation under TTIP will not replace or constrain any EU or US lawmaking procedures – it is unthinkable that either party would accept such a thing.

Though each can already give its view at any time on any proposal in each other’s or indeed any jurisdiction, whether in response to a formal consultation or not. That has always been the case and constrains nobody.

Before adopting any proposal for an EU law, the European Commission undertakes open consultations: governments – both EU and non-EU – businesses and NGOs of all sorts can and do respond in large numbers.

The Commission then decides what to propose. Elected Ministers and MEPs decide whether that proposal becomes EU law and how to amend it before it does. TTIP will change nothing of that.

The Commission is conducting TTIP negotiations as openly as possible – though all trade negotiations do require some confidentiality. Certain texts are only shown to governments and MEPs. Before any deal can enter into force, approval by every Member State and by the European Parliament – as well as by the US Congress – is required. So it is simply not the case that Member States and the Parliament are being – or ever could be – “sidelined”.

More details on all aspects of the negotiations here.

Post updated on 21 March following publication of the Commission’s text on regulatory cooperation

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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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