More than 100 Civil society organisations demand a stop to trade talks that will further endanger EU rules on health and the environment and aggravate the climate crisis. A change of course is needed.

We have followed the recent talks between the European Commission and the US authorities on a new trade agreement with disbelief and disappointment. It has become clear that the Commission is prepared to accommodate Trump’s demands for a reduction of EU food safety levels, to the detriment of public health, animal welfare and the environment, and also undermining EU commitments on climate change. 

Fear of threats made by the US President to impose high tariffs on European cars cannot be an excuse for retreating on basic public interest. The apparent paradigm shift within the Commission, emerging after months of negotiating behind closed doors and largely shielded from public scrutiny, is highly alarming. We call on governments and parliamentarians in the EU to push the Commission to alter its course. It must be made clear to the US Administration that our public health and environmental protection levels are not for sale. 

Pressure from US trade negotiators on the EU to lower standards is nothing new. Recent statements made by US Agricultural Secretary Perdue stated that any deal would depend on concessions from the EU to allow meat rinsed with acid or chlorine, or treated with hormones, pesticide residues in food and feed, or the dismantling of protective rules on GMOs.

What is new is the response from the EU. When a comprehensive free trade agreement (TTIP) was negotiated with the US previously, the Commission claimed it would not lower standards. But recent statements by Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan about the current talks show a different approach. He has spoken of “a long list of regulatory barriers in agriculture” that could be “resolved” in an agreement. 

These “regulatory barriers” are in place for good reasons: We have rules on pesticides and chemical hormones in meat to protect our health and the environment. We have restrictions on GMOs to protect biodiversity and consumers. We have restrictions on meat treated with chlorine or acid to protect animal welfare and food safety.  EU citizens’ commitment to a precautionary approach was strongly confirmed during the public debate on TTIP – a trade agreement that would not have survived a democratic vote within the EU had it included concessions on the scale now demanded by the US.

We believe the Commission is putting the goals of the ‘European Green Deal’ at risk. This comprehensive strategy covers several elements now targeted by the US. For instance, according to the strategy the EU must work “to reduce significantly the use and risk of chemical pesticides”. Repeated calls from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to support sustainable agriculture add further strength to this commitment. Yet, the Commission has not rejected US demands to lower ambitions in this area, and thus risks lending support to the most polluting kind of agriculture. Moreover, given that the conciliatory approach of the Commission is an attempt to protect the export from the EU of notoriously climate-damaging cars, the promise of the European Green Deal to bring about a greener approach to agriculture and trade now seems to be undermined by the Commission itself.  

Furthermore, the Commission does not even have a mandate to conduct negotiations on these matters. The mandate adopted in April 2019 leaves no space for negotiations on food and other safety standards. Trade Commissioner Hogan has said that he is “trying to look at ways where through regulatory cooperation we might be able to look at non-tariff barriers as a way of bringing agriculture issues on the table”. This suggests that the Trade Commissioner wants to establish a long-term, discreet dialogue behind the scenes to find ways to accommodate US demands, for which he has the support of some member states. That must not be allowed to happen. It would undermine EU laws and procedures agreed to decades ago, it is not within the current mandate, and it should not be in a new one.

In light of the above, we call on European governments in the Council of the EU and parliamentarians to ensure that our concerns regarding the protection of labour rights and the environment, transparency and the involvement of civil society are honoured. Our elected representatives must call for an overhaul of the current trade talks with the US. The EU must make unequivocally clear to the US Administration that our public health and environmental protection levels are not for sale, that we will not succumb to threats, and that trade policy must put people, the environment and the climate first.


Attac AustriaAustria
Katholische ArbeitnehmerInnen Bewegung ÖsterreichAustria
Allianz gerechtes HandelnAustria
transform!atAustria – Verein zur Förderung zivilgesellschaftlicher PartizipationAustria
Center for Encounter and Active Non-ViolenceAustria
GLOBAL 2000 – Friends of the Earth AustriaAustria
Evangelische Kirche HalleinAustria
Anders HandelnAustria
ELABasque Country
Mouvement DemainBelgium
vzw ClimaxiBelgium
Entraide et Fraternité Belgium
European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU)Belgium
Mouvement d’Action Paysanne
Solidarna Bulgaria
Global Aktion Denmark
Africa Europe Faith & Justice NetworkEurope
Corporate Europe ObservatoryEurope
Slow Food EuropeEurope
Seattle to Brussels NetworkEurope
European Environmental BureauEurope
Friends of the Earth EuropeEurope
Banana LinkFrance
Comité Pauvreté et politiqueFrance
Emmaüs InternationalFrance
confederation paysanneFrance
réseau Roosevelt IDFFrance
Fédération Artisans du Monde France
alofa tuvaluFrance
Comemrce Équitable FranceFrance
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network FranceFrance
Réseau Foi & Justice Afrique Europe antenne FranceFrance
Veblen InstituteFrance
Attac FranceFrance
Collectif stop taftaFrance
Amis de la Terre FranceFrance
BLOOM AssociationFrance
Committee in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan)France
Youth and Environment Europe France 
Confederation paysanne 24France – Dordogne
LobbyControl Germany
PowerShift e.V.Germany
BUND KG BonnGermany
Kölner Bündnis für gerechten WelthandelGermany
Forum Umwelt & EntwicklungGermany
Bonner Bündnis gegen TTIP & Co – für solidarischenWelthandelGermany
Arbeitskreis Freihandelsfalle von Attac MünchenGermany
Berliner WassertischGermany
foodwatch internationalGermany
Sozial- und SchuldnerberatungGermany
Naturefriends Greece
Towards Sustainability AssociationHungary
Clean Air Action GroupHungary
Zöldövezet Társulás Környezetvédelmi EgyesületHungary
Green Circle of Pécs Hungary
Fauna AlapítványHungary
New Hempage jdooHungary
Eletfa Environmental Protection AssociationHungary
Civilek a Mecsekért MozgalomHungary
Environmental Planning and Education NetworkHungary
Ararát Teremtésvédelmi Munkacsoport (Ararat Care for Creation Workgroup)Hungary
Szombathely-Herény K. Cs. S EgyesületHungary
Védegylet EgyesületHungary
Tanácsadók a Fenntartható FejlődésértHungary
Vision AssociationHungary
Holocén Természetvédelmi EgyesületHungary
Közép-magyarországi Zöld KörHungary
REFLEX Környezetvédő EgyesületHungary
Magyarországi Éghajlatvédelmi SzövetségHungary
Karátson Gábor KörHungary
Magyar Természetvédők Szövetsége / Friends of the Earh HungaryHungary
Heroes of Responsible Dining FoundationHungary
Csalàn EgyesületHungary
Gyermekláncfű Kézműves, Oktatási és Környezetnevelési EgyesületHungary
Fényszaruiak Baráti EgyesületeHungary
Zöld Akció Egyesület (Green Action)Hungary
Magosfa FoundationHungary
Profilantrop AssociationHungary
Good Energies Alliance IrelandIreland
Feasta: the Foundation for the Economics of SustainabilityIreland
Irish Seed Savers Association CLG Ireland
Fracking Free Clare Ireland
An Claíomh GlasIreland
An Taisce – the National Trust for IrelandIreland
Stop TTIP/CETA ItaliaItaly
transform! italiaItaly
Latvian Fund for NatureLatvia
Mouvement Ecologique asblLuxembourg
Both ENDSNetherlands
Transnational InstituteNetherlands
Instytut Globlanej Odpowiedzialności (IGO)Poland
Stowarzyszenie Rozruch Poland
Pro-Terra FoundationPoland
TROCA- Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional JustoPortugal
ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth SystemPortugal
SOSNA Slovakia
Focus Association for Sustainable DevelopmentSlovenia
ASiA-Associació Salut i AgroecologíaSpain
Campanya Catalunya No als Tractats de Comerç i InversióSpain
Campaña No a los Tratados de Comercio e InversiónSpain
Ecoogistas en AcciónSpain
Coag (Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos)Spain
Institute for Agriculture and Trade PolicyU.S. and Europe