Environmental legislation and TTIP – looking into the detail

Negotiations between the EU and US on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were launched in 2013. The agreement aims to facilitate commercial exchanges of goods and services and enhance investments through the removal of trade barriers including tariffs and non-tariff measures such as differences in regulations on both sides of the Atlantic. In some cases there are substantial regulatory differences between the EU and the US which usually reflect diverging concerns or approaches such as value judgments, policy objectives and approaches to risk analysis.

This study by BIO by Deloitte, Ecologic and IEEP for the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) analyses the main differences in EU and US legislation in eight TTIP-relevant areas. Areas examined in the study are: medicines for human use and medical devices, cosmetics, food and nutrition, sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS), nanomaterials, cloning, raw materials and energy, and motor vehicles. Existing collaboration between the EU and US, progress already achieved in the negotiations and potential future developments in these areas are also examined. The study aims to support members of the ENVI Committee in monitoring the on-going negotiations on TTIP.

The study shows how the degree of divergence between regulatory systems in the EU and US varies across areas. In some cases (e.g. cosmetics, cloning), differences are so significant that they are unlikely to be bridged. Differences that result from diverging approaches to risk analysis (e.g. a precautionary approach in the EU versus a “sound-science” approach in the US) including in areas of food safety and SPS may also complicate matters. Where differences between EU and US regulatory systems are mainly of a technical nature (e.g. technical environmental standards for motor vehicles), greater convergence could potentially be achieved through increased technical cooperation or mutual recognition of regulations; although the implications for future regulatory development need to be considered. Finally, in areas where there are currently no binding regulations on either side of the Atlantic (e.g. nanomaterials), convergence may be easier to achieve through scientific and technical cooperation and better coordination of regulators.

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