MEP for Dublin, Nessa Childers, supported the formal opinion voted through the European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday.
The vote was on the current negotiations between the EU and US authorities with a view to concluding a trade and investment agreement. The deal has the potential to have far reaching regulatory implications on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ms. Childers welcomed the opinion, which was issued to the International Trade Committee, as strong validation of many civil society concerns, with a particular emphasis on human health and the environment.
Speaking from Brussels after the vote, Ms. Childers said:
“The most enthusiastic free trade advocates must remember that trade policy, just like any other sphere of economic policy, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
“We all want to do our part to stimulate growth and job creation and to allow companies to do their business without unnecessary obstacles.
“However, we mustn’t allow a pro-business discourse to turn into a smokescreen to the dismantlement of important standards just to fatten the profits of powerful multinationals.
“This is why I cooperated with other colleagues in the Environment committee in the drafting of our opinion, to stress that our citizens expect us to protect our health, food safety, and overall environment, including animal health.
“Europe has a tradition of avoiding risks when the science around the safety of certain substances or practices is not clear, and we must not go backwards on this.
“We mustn’t allow this precautionary principle to fall victim to free trade any more than we should contemplate importing chickens that have been bleached in overseas slaughterhouses.
“Where our standards diverge fundamentally, we should agree to disagree, rather than ramming these unpalatable changes down our citizens’ throats through backdoor trade deals negotiated in secrecy by technocrats.
“The regulation of areas such as GMOs, the administration of hormones to animals, the use of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals, and the right to the public provision of health or water are all thing that, in a democracy, belong in Parliamentary debates, not dimly lit diplomatic rooms.”