Skip to main content Skip to page footer

Regulatory coherence in the transatlantic trade and investment partnership agreement: the case of chemicals

Vito A. Bounsante

elni Review 2014, Issue 2, pp. 39-43.

The beginning of the negotiations for a trade and investment partnership agreement between the European Union and the United States of America was announced in February 2014 by the US president Barack Obama. Unlike traditional trade agreements the TTIP aims to include a “regulatory cluster” in the form of a regulatory coherence annex that should include procedures to minimize differences in regulation. However, the regulatory coherence chapter, according to the negotiators on both sides, will not impair each parties’ right to regulate. Therefore, diverging regulations will be allowed in order to protect health, safety, consumer, workers and the environment. Finally, the negotiators also state that no changes will be made to existing regulations. It seems apparent that these two objectives – coherence and the right to regulate, – are in stark contrast with each other. On the one hand, there is the goal to avoid and eliminate trade barriers; on the other hand, the high level of protection of EU citizens should not be undermined; in addition, no change in basic regulations is foreseen. This article outlines some difficulties in seeking regulatory coherence chapter whilst at the same time maintaining the right to choose different levels of protections. After discussing the problem of lack of transparency in the negotiations, the article focuses on the implications of regulatory cooperation for health and environmental legislation. In particular this article focuses on the case of the chemicals regulation for which discussions have advanced more in the negotiations thus far and for which there are wide differences in terms of regulations.

Access full article


  1. Statement from United States President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Brussels/ Washington, 13 February 2013.
  2. Letter to the Council of the EU requesting an opinion in the European Ombudsman's own-initiative inquiry OI/11/2014/MMN concerning transparency and public participation in relation to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
  3. Lack of transparency in TTIP - a case for the ECJ?, 10 July 2014.
  4. Directives for the negotiation on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States of America (ST 11103/13).
  5. Commission Staff Working Document; Impact Assessment Report on the future of EU-US trade relations, SWD(2013) 68 final, page 50.
  6. TTIP: Cross-cutting disciplines and Institutional provisions, Position paper – Chapter on Regulatory Coherence.
  7. Karel De Gucht, European Trade Commissioner European Commission, Speech-Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – Solving the Regulatory Puzzle, Karel De Gucht European Trade Commissioner European Commission - SPEECH/13/801 (October 10/10/2013).
  8. Reducing Transatlantic Barriers to Trade and Investment: An Economic Assessment, Prepared under implementing Framework Contract TRADE10/A2/A16 at 16, 30–32 (Mar. 2013).
  9. Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), OJ L 396 30.12.2006.
  10. USTR, 2013 Report on Technical Barriers to Trade
  11. R. Denison, "Ten essential Elements in TSCA Reform." Environmental Law 
  12. European Commission, The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Regulatory Issues, EU position on chemicals.
  13. “Toward a Toxic Partnership”, ClientEarth and the Center for International Environmental law (CIEL).
  14. “Outline for provisions on chemicals”, European Commission, 26.09.2014.
  15. “2014 Report of technical barriers to trade”, USTR, April 2014, at pp. 70-71.
  16. “DG Sanco to assume responsibility for EDC criteria”, ChemicalWatch, September 18, 2014.
  17. “SVHC Roadmap to 2020 Implementation Plan”, ECHA-13-R-11-EN, December 2013, pp.13-14.
  18. Community rolling action plan (CoRAP) update covering years 2014, 2015 and 2016, ECHA, 26 March 2014.
  19. “TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments: 2014 Update”, US Environmental Protection Agency, October 2014.
  20. Discussion non-paper “How to put ideas for cooperation under TTIP into practice – a few examples”, European Commission, 24 September 2014.