1. Will TTIP result in the privatisation of the NHS?
a. The Prime Minister, The EU Commission, The US Trade Representative, The UK Government, The NHS Trust and BMD have all stated and acknowledged that the NHS would not be at risk of privatisation should TTIP be completed and the mandate for the trade deal agreed by EU Governments would be respected. There have been countless reassurances and clear statements to this point.
2. The US still uses animals to test cosmetics; will TTIP overturn the EU’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics?
a. In the EU there is a ban on animal testing for make-up, deodorants and other cosmetic products; this now includes a ban on ingredients and marketing. Whilst the US continues to test on animals, the EU and US have agreed to work together to find new alternatives for testing. Through TTIP we can share our science and testing alternatives to demonstrate the correct balance between animal rights and the development of new products. Through TTIP we can encourage other nations to do away with animal testing for these products.
3. Does TTIP represent a threat to democracy?
a. Far from it. Some people have claimed TTIP to be a threat to the democratically elected governments of the EU. Please be assured that, given the likelihood that TTIP will be what is known as a "mixed agreement", this means that the European Parliament's International Trade Committee, Member State Parliaments and the EU Council will have to give their final approval to the deal and therefore any final deal can be vetoed if deemed a threat to the UK's interests. Conservative MEPs will be monitoring the progress of negotiations extremely closely over the coming months. If this agreement's scope continues to remain as big and as broad as it is currently, which I hope it does, know that national parliaments will be central to passing this piece of legislation.
4. What measures have been put in place to make TTIP more transparent and open?
a. Many people have voiced concerns about the transparency and the public nature of the TTIP agreement. No other trade agreement by the EU has ever been as transparent and as open as this agreement. the Commission has laid out new guidelines to its administration. All meetings held by senior civil servants in the European Commission from the 1st December 2014 onwards must be published on its websites. This information must include the names, dates and locations of said meetings. Commissioner Malmstrom went even further in stating that more negotiating texts, the documents guiding negotiations, were to be published. In addition, the reading room of all the negotiation papers is to be opened up to more than just the current set of MEPs on the International Trade Committee. Furthermore, less TTIP documents will be classified with 'EU Restricted' status, making external access even easier. All these measures highlight the desire to be as upfront and as transparent as possible.
5. Will TTIP allow for chlorinated chicken and GMO food to come to the EU?
a. Those that oppose TTIP have long used ‘Chlorinated Chicken’ and ‘Genetically Modified Organisms’ to scaremonger and develop an anti-TTIP sentiment. It is crucial that we are honest with how food is made in the EU. The EU does allow GMOs in the form of GMO ‘events’, it is wrong to argue that GMOs are alien to the EU. This regulation will remain in force, the EU will not be forced to import GMOs we have not previously approved or hormone treated beef or meat from cloned animals. The EU will not permit products that fail to meet its standards into the EU market; similarly the US will not allow a number of EU food products, specifically a number of cheese products. Once again TTIP offers an opportunity to work together, not bind nations into each other’s regulation.
6. When will TTIP be concluded?
a. Hopefully in the next two years. There have been several milestones and goals placed on the horizon of when TTIP should be concluded, however they have been postponed. It was originally hoped that TTIP would be finished as soon as possible. However, whilst we would like to see TTIP concluded soon it is vitally important that TTIP meets its goal of being ambitious, comprehensive and balanced. Substance over speed.
7. Will ISDS affect a nation’s right to regulate?
a. No, nations retain the power to regulate. ISDS allows for investors to be compensated in cases of expropriation without sufficient compensation and if a Government (including the US Government) reneges on its internationally and democratically ratified obligations in a trade treaty. This cannot overturn existing or prevent future laws being made. ISDS is there to ensure that British investors, for example pension funds, feel safe when sending their money abroad.
8. Will ISDS be included in TTIP?
a. Only provided certain conditions are met. The commission announced that investment protection will be included in TTIP but how this mechanism will function needs to be investigated. The commission would like to see a new standard of investment protection which addresses its critics. TTIP offers the chance to redesign investment protection to meet both the concerns of how it is practised but also provide the necessary safeguards to allow for fluid investment between the two continents.
9. Is there a need for TTIP, when the EU already trades so much with the US?
a. Yes. Many people look at the low trade tariffs currently in place and conclude that TTIP is reducing already small tariffs (3.5% to 5.2%). However, these tariffs mask the non-tariff barriers (NTBs), it is estimated that the additional trade costs of working with the US are between 10% and 20%. A product that’s price could jump by a fifth is naturally uncompetitive and thus restrictive on business growth and consumer choice and savings. Eliminating tariffs does not go far enough, TTIP needs to address the unnecessary red tape/behind the border hampering measures in order to truly deliver results for consumers.
10. How is the consumer involved in the construction of TTIP?
a. To ensure protection for consumers an advisory group has been established and is made up of both consumer and producer interest groups. Its aim is to advise the EU Commission on these negotiations and agreements. It is important to get a balanced view between these two parties and to ensure that they are as proactive as possible in the construction of the agreement. Moreover, Conservative MEPs regularly meet with consumer groups to listen to their concerns. This deal will not be concluded without public support and it is vital that consumer questions are answered. At the same time, we must be clear that consumers will benefit from a wider range of cheaper products which will be affordable to them as a result of this agreement.