Potential Environmental Policy and Regulatory Impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

  • Abstract:

    The current EU-US negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership can result in a comprehensive agreement, which will be able to shape not only the traditional trade agenda, but will cover a set of non-trade matters (environmental, labour standards and other societal issues) as well. Specifically the environmental impacts have become a matter of public concern and are in the centre of attention of both the academia and the civil society since the negotiations have been started in 2013. The proposed paper intends to analyse two aspects of the likely implications, which could be triggered by the future transatlantic agreement and affect the EU environmental policy. First, the policy level of the analysis is focusing on the question how the contracting parties will integrate the environmental concerns into the agreement and how these concerns could be reconciled with the standard trade concerns and principles (e.g. liberalization). The environmental integration became a flagship issue also in the ongoing transatlantic negotiations and therefore the outcome can influence, at policy level, the future relation between the trade and environmental policies in the European Union. Second, the TTIP can also have direct impact on the environmental regulation, for this reason the paper will focus also on the regulatory level as well. It is well known that the declared objective of the planned transatlantic trade agreement is to unify the standards of the European Union and United States as much as possible by regulatory cooperation. However, an improper design of regulatory cooperation carries considerable risks for environmental protection in the EU, as environmental standards might be lowered, most specifically in a case, if the rules on harmonization would result in a ‘race to the bottom’ effect. The paper concludes that a carefully planned agreement will not constrain the policy leeway of the EU in the field of the environmental protection, however the EU negotiators have to pay very close attention to choosing the right models, methods and formulations in the future text of the agreement.