Environment groups launch transatlantic alliance

European and US environmental groups have established the Transatlantic Environment Dialogue (TAED), aiming to help protect and benefit the environment and to integrate environmental protection into all aspects of EU-US relations.

The launching of the TAED is in response to bilateral governmental initiatives under the EU-US New Transatlantic Agenda, but is in no way intended to legitimise these processes. The TAED says it will establish and implement its own independent agenda.

The TAED is comprised of non-governmental, non-profit, non-commercially related, non-partisan organisations working together to achieve the following objectives:

  • Monitor transatlantic negotiations and policy making with a view towards making sustainable development the overall objective in EU-US relations and assessing and preventing the potential negative impact of governmental policies on the environment;
  • Promote the development and maintenance of the highest environmental standards and regulations;
  • Promote transparency and accountability on the part of the EU and the US governments and increase public participation in environmental, health and social matters;
  • Build upon the already existing co-operation and joint action among EU and US non-governmental organisations and promote further dialogue with NGOs in other regions, including those devoted to consumer, development and labour issues.

Participants in the TAED have divided into working groups to specifically address environment and development issues relating to trade liberalisation, biodiversity, climate change, agriculture and industry. Many of the specific concerns raised in working groups have related to trade and environment issues.

TAED says that trade policies should promote, rather than undermine environmental protection and sustainable development. Ongoing negotiations in the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations raised several issues of concern.

Specifically, US and EU non-governmental organisations are concerned that the TEP fails to adequately incorporate sustainable development concerns into its basic structure. They have presented the following demands to the US and EU governments:

  • Environmental and social impact assessments of each activity within the TEP must be conducted before they are implemented, and explicitly incorporate potential indirect impacts on developing country partners;
  • A respect for environmental limits, biodiversity protection and social justice and equity. The polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle should be incorporated in all trade negotiation and co-operation sectors;
  • Full participation by democratically elected national bodies in a transparent and participatory manner. National governments’ ability to maintain and further develop high national environmental protection standards and to determine appropriate levels of risk for their citizens should not be undermined.

Apart from the issues related to the bilateral dimension of the TEP, participants of the TAED are concerned about the impacts on the multilateral trade agenda. They say the upcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting represents a critical opportunity to reform trade rules so that the multilateral trading system can help achieve sustainable development.

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