New trade agreement would give US influence over Danish law

US and business lobby could have major influence on trade regulations

A proposal hidden in a proposed trade agreement between the US and EU could give the business community and the US major influence on future regulations in Denmark and other EU countries. According to a report by the Brussels-based NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the Regulatory Co-operation Council (RCC), a joint regulatory commission that the agreement would put in place to oversee the agreement, will allow industry lobbyists to get very close to the legislative process.

“This model allows business organisations a seat at the table with regulators,” Kenneth Haar, a researcher at CEO told Information newspaper. “It will probably result in a deregulation offensive.”

The intent of the transatlantic free trade agreement is to align existing legislation in the EU and in the United States to remove trade barriers. The RCC is supposed to see that future regulations are designed under close co-operation between Brussels and Washington “to avoid negative consequences for international and especially transatlantic trade”, according to the text of the agreement.

No new laws without US approval
The agreement would require that the US be consulted whenever the EU or a member state – such as Denmark – plans any new trade-related regulations, including, for example, legislation relevant to food and consumer safety.

The agreement states that the EU or any member state considering changing trade laws must “make all reasonable endeavours to provide information on such initiatives” to the US. It would mean, for example, that the Danish government and the EU could no longer negotiate or adjust trade regulations without involving the US.

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A document from the EU points out that the ability of countries to insist on high environmental and health standards would not be changed, but CEO is concerned that the increasing influence given to the business community would dilute environmental and consumer protections. They point to language that would establish committees allowing stakeholders to “co-operate” with authorities during the lawmaking process. Although NGOs could be considered stakeholders, CEO fears that they would not have a real place at the negotiating table.

The third round of negotiations on the trade agreement are scheduled to begin in Washington on Monday.