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I can see where such negotiations might lead to an agreement that many of us do not like, but, with some strategic engagement by progressives on boths sides of the big lake, I can also see where regulatory homogenization can be a big win for progressive advocates on both continents as well.  Europe can gain from the more comprehensive and systematic nature of data gathering and reporting by industrial entities as occurs in the US and Canada, for example, if required in some way to implement the provisions of such an agreement. The US can gain from a European regulatory framework geared toward assuring more more environmental and local community sustainability and consumer protection than occurs in the US.

Of course industrialists will try to capture the process -- that's the liberal democratic process, after all.  But that doesn't prevent progressives from being in the contest and trying to capture as much of structure as well. I see more opportunity here than threats at this point, much more than in north-south trade agreements where the disparities of power are so much greater.

by santiago on Fri Jan 17th, 2014 at 01:42:47 PM EST
There are plenty of a priori reasons to oppose anything brokered by EPP-PES. Particularly anything they've brokered with the US State Department.

But we are also far enough along the process that we do not actually need to make any decision a priori. There's plenty of data to go by in the conduct of the process alone, and all that data points toward the proverbial fix being in.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 17th, 2014 at 01:54:41 PM EST
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I don't know. It looks like a lot of Dean Baker's concerns have been dealt with already or are being dealt with as advocates make enough noise to get them on the agenda, as its supposed to work.  For example, according the EU's negotiators,"

"ISDS is not about giving unlimited rights to multinationals to challenge any legislative measure taken by sovereign states in any area of regulation. Under TTIP, investors will not be compensated with taxpayers' money just because of a fall in profits due to a change in the law. Nor will it be possible for investors to override bans of practices like fracking. (emphasis mine)"
by santiago on Fri Jan 17th, 2014 at 03:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Fri Jan 17th, 2014 at 03:29:12 PM EST
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There are three major red flags for me in this proposal.

The first is the subordination of regulators to "independent," so-called, third party arbitration. Regulators are fundamentally political control functions, and as such should answer first and last to parliament.

The second is the clear intent to further restrict states from imposing conditions upon cross-border money and security market activities. This is a clear destabilizing influence, because whatever they are in life, financial market players are very much national in death. The ability to restrict the movement of money across borders is therefore a vital national security matter.

Finally, I always keep a hand on my wallet and an eye on my constitution whenever somebody mentions "technical barriers to trade," or words to that effect. In the context of the European Union, this is almost always an attempt by the trade branch of the EU bureaucracy to usurp powers traditionally held by the regional development, consumer protection, or interoperability standards branches. And since the trade branch has a materially greater concentration of swivel-eyed neoliberal crazies, this is normally not a good thing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 17th, 2014 at 06:02:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ISDS is not about giving unlimited rights to multinationals to challenge any legislative measure taken by sovereign states in any area of regulation. Under TTIP, investors will not be compensated with taxpayers' money just because of a fall in profits due to a change in the law. Nor will it be possible for investors to override bans of practices like fracking.

When I read a statement like this my base assumption is that it is misleading, misdirecting public relations blather:

*ISDS is not about giving unlimited rights to multinationals... Translation: Well, yes. They will be given almost unlimited rights.

*investors will not be compensated with taxpayers' money just because of a fall in profits due to a change in the law. Translation: Put 'just' in bold.

*Nor will it be possible for investors to override bans of practices like fracking. True! That is what all of the rented politicians are for.

There should be an award for beneficial candor regarding public affairs from a public official. The inaugural award should go to Jean-Claude-Juncker for his statement: "When it is serious you have to lie." How do you tell if it is serious? If it involves $billions that oligarchs can make by fleecing the public and/or polluting the commons it is very serious.

The ancient Greeks had the tradition that any citizen could scratch someone's name on a pottery shard, or 'ostrakon' and drop it in a depository. With a sufficient number of such 'votes' the designated person would have to leave the city or commit suicide. Were there such an option today most of our leaders would, quite deservedly, fall victim.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jan 18th, 2014 at 12:58:10 AM EST
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This seems like the right place to reply overall - here are my reasons to oppose this, a priori:

  1. Assurances like the above have been part of many recent treaty negotiations - in each case they have turned out to be false.

  2. There is every reason to believe that the US will use influence with smaller EU states, esp. the more recently joined ones, to disrupt opposition in Europe to things it would like to see dismantled - REACH is an obvious target.

So while the "trade blocs" appear to be of equal power, the US has a significant tactical power advantage.

3) I won't repeat all of Jake's reasons, although they all seem worthy of consideration - but I'll add that there are specific provisions not only around "freeing up finance" but also "freeing up health care for US investment" and of course the ongoing issue of GM foods.

I guess what I'm saying is, as a European, with relatively good knowledge of the quality of the people involved on the negotiation on the European side, I can see no way this trade deal is in any way likely to benefit Europeans in total.

A final point for reference, this legislation could make my business life much easier, I wrestle regularly with the arcane US rules on imports. Still, I can still see how overall, it's unlikely to benefit me as a European...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 18th, 2014 at 02:19:03 PM EST
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The EU's negotiators wrote that with a shovel.  The US isn't even pretending about that.
by rifek on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 08:31:55 PM EST
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I don't see how homogenization can be even remotely good.  Our regulatory structure in the US is something out of the 14th Century.
by rifek on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 07:29:43 PM EST
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First, I don't agree that US regulatory structure in general is "out of the 14th century." In many ways, particularly information gathering and transparency it is far ahead of Europe and everywhere else.  However, in the areas where it does need improvement -- particularly privacy concerns, food traceability, GMO regulation of grain traceability, and pesticide and agricultural chemical regulation , the US stands to gain a lot by adopting some of the European frameworks and forcing US industries to adapt to those. Europe stands to gain by opportunities to increase the democratization of regulatory information, while the US stands to gain by adopting some of Europe's more consumer-friendly protections.
by santiago on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 07:51:12 PM EST
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Transparent?  Our regulatory agencies are a revolving door - between themselves and the industries they are supposed to regulate.  They are owned.  Nothing in this treaty will change that.  Further, I do not see Europe's consumer-friendly regulations being adopted here but rather the anti-consumer (and anti-labor, anti-environmental, etc.) regulations here being used to attack regulations in Europe.
by rifek on Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 01:41:38 AM EST
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While environmental legislation may be stronger in Europe, regulation is recognized by activists on both sides of the lake to be much better in the US, even after accounting for the EPA's chronic lack of funding to achieve its broad mission. The reason is the broad central authority and data collection capabilities of the US EPA and associated agencies.  I don't know that this treaty will be able to provide an opportunity for homogenization of environmental regulations, but if it does European environmentalists stand to benefit by using the process the push for common regulatory frameworks closer to the US data-driven system (while US heavy industry pushes for a European model which notoriously allows for cheating and honor system reporting). Almost the exact opposite is the case with food and drug regulation.  
by santiago on Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 02:12:24 PM EST
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The exceptions to the regulations here eat the regulations.  Industrial "agriculture" is effectively exempt from water pollution regs.  Our air pollution regs are a joke.  Don't believe me?  Walk out my front door and breathe.  Better take a chainsaw to cut the air.
by rifek on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 07:11:06 PM EST
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