During this week’s mission to Washington DC, the president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, met with the US trade representative, Michael Froman, and with the US Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO (the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). The meetings underline the S&Ds' commitment to speeding up negotiations on TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).
President Pittella stressed that while an ambitious agreement had potential benefits for both for the EU and US, some red lines were not negotiable, especially on workers' conditions and health standards.
S&D Group president Gianni Pittella MEP said:
“We do not just want a free-trade agreement with the United States. We want a fair transatlantic trade and investment agreement, because an ambitious agreement could genuinely contribute to global recovery, boosting economic growth. Therefore the Socialists and Democrats Group is fully committed to removing obstacles and finding a mutually beneficial compromise by the end of this year.
“However, there are some red lines we cannot give way on: no lowering of EU standards on consumer safety or conditions for workers; no hormone-treated beef on our plates; no genetically modified organisms (GMOs); no meat cleaned using chlorine and lye solutions; no inclusion of data protection in TTIP; no investor-state dispute system (ISDS).
"On the contrary, our key task is to safeguard and even increase the EU's high standards for labour rights, consumer protection and healthcare. At the same time, a real, fair agreement should also allow for equal access to markets for both European and US enterprises, by removing both tariff and non-tariff barriers. In addition, the agreement will be decisive, setting a range of common standards, norms and rules in order to ensure there is genuine competition and avoid double certification costs, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.”
The chair of the European Parliament's international trade committee and the Parliament’s lead negotiator for TTIP, S&D MEP Bernd Lange, added:
“We are looking for real benefits for EU citizens, companies and consumers in these negotiations and will only support an agreement that can offer this. Increasing our access to the US’s public procurement market, defending European geographical indications and setting high labour standards are all on our agenda. We support the principle that foreign investors should be protected and treated equally with domestic investors. We do not believe that the investor-state dispute system (ISDS) is the right tool to achieve this goal between the EU and the US.”
S&D vice-president Tanja Fajon MEP commented:
"We are ready to continue the dialogue with our US counterparts to guarantee that the right to privacy, equivalent information rights, privacy protection and other rights, including redress, for EU citizens, residents or other persons protected by EU law are protected in US courts. We need to ensure that strong protection for data privacy is achieved separately from the TTIP. Completing umbrella agreement negotiations would restore trust in transatlantic data transfers."