For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Dan Byrnes (Sierra Club): 202-495-3039 or
Natacha Cingotti (Friends of the Earth Europe): +32 4 9294 8898 or
Peter Fuchs (PowerShift): +49-(0)30-419 34 182,

Transatlantic Trade Leak Exposes EU’s Failure to Protect Our Air, Water, Health

WASHINGTON - A leaked European Union document published today by the Guardian has revealed that the EU is willing to trade away essential environmental safeguards during the ongoing EU-US trade talks. The U.S. is currently negotiating the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) with the European Union, while the Obama Administration tries to drum up Congressional support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a similar trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations.

The leaked document, which provides an overview of the EU’s opening position on “sustainable development” in the TTIP negotiations, is full of nonbinding and unenforceable commitments that show that the EU is not committed to safeguarding essential environmental policies and public health protections. It also fails to even mention TTIP’s many threats to our clean air, clean water, and our climate, or propose any concrete measures to counter these threats.

Environmental groups in the U.S. and in Europe have expressed their “deep concern” about the EU position in their analysis of the text, warning that nothing in the proposed text would prevent foreign corporations from attacking environmental policies in unaccountable trade tribunals or from TTIP expanding trade in dangerous fossil fuels like oil and gas.

The groups have also stated that the document’s weak language contradicts the EU’s previousclaims that a forthcoming proposal for a TTIP chapter on “Trade and sustainable development” would aim to “safeguard basic rules that protect… the environment” and “reinforce[e]… environmental governance.”

“This sustainable development proposal is anything but sustainable,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program. “It's window-dressing, at best. Not only are the supposed environmental safeguards toothless, but the proposal lacks any enforcement mechanism. Nothing in the chapter would change the fact that TTIP would empower corporations like Shell and Chevron to challenge climate and environmental policies in private trade tribunals and lead to increased exports and production of oil and gas. The United States cannot afford to join trade deals -- Trans-Pacific, Trans-Atlantic, or otherwise -- that set us back on environmental progress and climate action.”

“This new leak illustrates that the European Commission is not serious about protecting essential safeguards for citizens and the environment in the context of the TTIP talks,” said Natacha Cingotti, trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. The negotiations are already being used as a lobby vehicle by powerful corporate polluters who are likely to get VIP treatment above the rest of society, the only chapter that could bring strong language to protect essential regulations to build a sustainable future are weak and unenforceable.”

Environmental groups have already expressed concerns about the negative climate impacts of the EU’s TTIP negotiating objectives, including the decision to prioritise access to U.S. fossil fuels instead of maximizing the potential of clean energy and energy efficiency, despite having set targets to reduce climate emissions by 2020.


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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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