February 28, 2014

A word on chlorinated chicken in TTIP

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These days the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht claims chlorinated chicken was not a valid concern of the TTIP negotiations.

EU investment agreements will explicitly state that legitimate government public policy decisions – on issues such as the balance between public and private provision of healthcare or “the European ban on chicken carcasses washed with chlorine” – cannot be over-ridden.

In the US it is common to use chlorine for desinfection of slaughtered poultry. The EU denies these US imports on food safety grounds under 191 TFEU (precautionary principle). The chlorinated chicken became a poster child of consumer campaign groups against the TTIP and raised suspicion of the European public against the TTIP. Clorinated poultry is a top priority of the United States trade administration and former Commissioner Verheugen already had indicated concessions in the TEC talk rounds which he could not politically enact. MEP Marietje Schaake explains the bottlenecks of TTIP:

The EU has invoked the precautionary principle to ban the import of US hormone-treated beef. Other areas of concern are chlorine-washed chicken, cherries, molluscan shellfish, tallow, raw milk and genetically modified/engineered crops (GMO/GE). High levels of consumer protection and current practices will make it difficult for both sides to compromise or adapt standards on these highly sensitive issues.

The recent EU Commission hints that chlorinated chicken was off the agenda for TTIP strike those odd who follow the transatlantic talks for a while. Here is what the United States negotiators told about the third round of negotations:

“So during the third round this week, the negotiating groups have been meeting on, again, virtually all of the areas that we would anticipate would be covered in the TTIP. And just to recall, these areas include market access for industrial and agricultural products, and of course, the rules of origin for those products; we had the regulatory and standards group which focused on technical regulations; the sanitary and phytosanitary regulations primarily in the area of food safety, regulatory coherence, and particular sectors.”

  • “Rules of origin” means geographical indications (GI), the EU agenda point.
  • “sanitary and phytosanitary regulations primarily in the area of food safety” means chlorinated poultry and similar issues on the US trade agenda.

Bloomberg reported in 2012:

Both sides will seek to lower regulatory barriers that hinder transatlantic trade, such as long-running disputes over chemicals, genetically modified foods and chlorinated chicken.

The implications of the EU Commission attempts to dismiss that the US trade demands would be considered in the package weaken the US negotiating position and test their willingness to participate in the TTIP agreement. Even more they endanger an adoption of the TTIP in the European Parliament if the demands would be considered.