If you happened to see a copy of this press release last week, you might have been given the impression that ACC and its European counterparts were engaged in a nefarious plot to undermine the very basis for sound chemicals management on both sides of the Atlantic (I’ll have mine with an extra helping of hyperbole, please).
The CIEL-ClientEarth report is so far off-base that any reasonable observer will see right through it. But since it makes a number of claims about what ACC and Cefic are supposedly up to on TTIP, it’s worth taking some time to refute some of the most egregious assertions:
- The chemical industry is “secretly manipulating” the U.S-EU trade negotiations. On the contrary, we have been very transparent about our support for TTIP and our priorities for the negotiation. Submissions from October 2012 (jointly with Cefic) and May 2013 (on U.S. negotiating priorities) are available on both the ACC website and via regulations.gov. The supposedly “secret” December 2013 submission is actually far less exciting than claimed, and doesn’t present much that is new. It was developed following a request by the U.S. government and European Commission for more detail on our earlier submissions, and identifies exactly the same priorities we had previously outlined.
- The statement that no changes are contemplated to the underlying statutory or regulatory requirements in either jurisdiction is “wildly implausible” and “deeply disingenuous”. Actually, it means exactly what we say it means. We have been very clear all along that we are not proposing any changes to current regulations under TTIP. Rather, our goal is to ensure that our respective regulatory systems operate more effectively and efficiently together, reducing inadvertent barriers to trade and resulting in cost and resource savings for both industry and government while maintaining high levels of protection for human health and the environment. Do CIEL and ClientEarth have a fundamental objection to taxpayers’ money being used more efficiently in meeting legitimate regulatory objectives?
- The ACC-Cefic proposals would “create an industry bypass around democracy”. Wrong again. We have the same level of access to government negotiators as any other stakeholder. U.S. government representatives have made clear that their door is open to all stakeholders with views on the TTIP negotiations. And contrary to the claims in the report, we absolutely see a role for civil society as a stakeholder in the process. That’s why we say “stakeholders”. If we meant industry, we would say “industry”. One of the ironies in the CIEL-ClientEarth report’s calculated tone of mock outrage is that the industry proposal explicitly states that our goal is to promote more – not less – transparency in the regulatory process.
- The industry proposal would “give commercial interests and trade precedence over the protection of human health and the environment”. That is not the intention, and neither would it be the effect, of the ACC-Cefic proposal. We have said this repeatedly in our public comments on TTIP: our goal is to maintain high standards of protection for human health and the environment while enhancing cooperation on chemical regulation. The point of our proposals for improved sharing of data and information, and enhanced cooperation on the identification and assessment of priority chemicals is designed to speed up, not slow down the pace of chemical assessments. One result of this would be the reduced need for duplicative animal testing, with significant benefits for animal welfare. Surely that is something that CIEL and ClientEarth could support.
ACC remains a strong supporter of the TTIP negotiations, which have the potential to deliver significant benefits for governments, industry and consumers. Given the early position of the chemical industry in the value chain, the further reduction or elimination of barriers to trans-Atlantic trade in chemicals will have significant benefits for economic growth, job creation, and consumer choice.
It’s no secret that U.S. economic recovery is lagging and that a sound outcome from TTIP can help chemistry change that. But it’s a pity that, in their determination to find a conspiracy under every rock, CIEL and ClientEarth seem to be prepared to miss this much-needed opportunity.
ACC and our European industry counterparts will continue to be open and transparent as the TTIP negotiations move forward, and we would welcome greater engagement from other stakeholders– assuming, that is, they have something constructive to offer.