A freshly leaked chapter of the highly secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement shows the so called 'free trade' deal is nothing more than a power grab by large corporations and their paid lobby groups.
Specifically, the increased "cooperation," will allow corporate power to trample democratic protections, from labor to public health to climate regulations, while encouraging a race to the lowest possible standards.
The agreement, currently under negotiation between the United States and European Union, focuses on "regulatory cooperation" and would introduce a system that looks to harmonize every new environmental, health, and labor standard between the EU and the United States.
"It creates a labyrinth of red tape for regulators, to be paid by the tax payer, that undermines their appetite to adopt legislation in the public interest," said Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe in a press statement released Monday.
The shocking revelations come on the heels of global protests against the mammoth deal over the weekend and coincides with the reconvening of negotiations between the parties on Monday in New York.
The newest version of the regulatory cooperation chapter reveals that the European Commission is angling to impose even more barriers to regulations, effectively taking regulatory decision out of the hands of elected officials and into the hands of corporate lobby groups.
"Laws will be evaluated on whether or not they are compatible with the economic interests of major companies," the organization explains. "Responsibility for this screening will lie with the 'Regulatory cooperation body,' a permanent, undemocratic, and unaccountable conclave of European and American technocrats."
David Azoulay, managing attorney for the Center for International Environmental Law, stated "We are concerned about this new version, because it would take power away from legislators and regulators and give it to this group of technocrats that is not elected and operates in secrecy," Azoulay continued. "Secondly, this would burden lawmakers with extremely heavy procedures, create red tape, and force legislators at the local, state, and federal levels to spend large amounts of time answering questions about regulations."
The regulatory cooperation plan is already widely opposed by civil society groups. Governments have been meeting in secret and refuse to share details of the agreement due its controversial nature.
Over 170 organizations denounced regulatory cooperation in a statement released in February: "The Commission proposals for regulatory cooperation carry the threat of lowering standards in the long and short term, on both sides of the Atlantic, at the state and member state/European levels. They constrain democratic decision-making by strengthening the influence of big business over regulation."
The potential implications of this latest proposal are vast, as the TTIP is slated to be the largest 'trade deal' in history. When it becomes law the agreement will represent a massive gift of power to large corporations while stripping any sort of democratic oversight from key regulatory functions.
Together, the U.S. and EU account for nearly half of the world's GDP. The TTIP agreement is the latest data point in a troubling trend: the secret negotiation of so called trade deals. Currently the United States is negotiating the accord alongside two other secret trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement. Both have been highlighted for their undemocratic nature and cosiness to corporate lobbyists. Drafts of the agreements have been written by the corporations themselves and rubber stamped by bureaucrats.
Analysts are warning that the TTIP alone is poised to dramatically expand corporate power.
"Both the [E.U.] Commission and US authorities will be able to exert undue pressure on governments and politicians under this measure as these powerful players are parachuted into national legislative procedures," warned Kenneth Haar of Corporate Europe Observatory in a press release. "The two are also very likely to share the same agenda: upholding the interests of multinationals."