Regulatory Cooperation under TTIP: Democracy on this Side of the Bridge

A week ago, the EU Commission announced that investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) will no longer be part of its proposals on TTIP. This was the Commission’s response to public contestation and fears that such a mechanism could place unjustified constraints on democratic institutions and on the capacity of states and of the EU to preserve their regulatory autonomy. The change announced by the Commission may be a step in the right direction. But there are other reasons of concern in the current Commission proposals, which have been overshadowed by the discussion on ISDS. Once the agreement is in place, how will decisions be made on the differences between EU and US regulation that could be usefully overcome? On which technical requirements are unnecessarily duplicated? On which standards should remain in place because they contend with health safety in a way that would not be compatible with EU standards? On which areas are too distinct to justify attempts at mutual recognition? Such issues will be decided, in a first instance, via regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US. Thus far there has been little debate on this chapter of TTIP. Yet, regulatory cooperation may remove decision-making further away from parliamentary oversight and impact on existing institutional balances in the EU.

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