Josef Janning, Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR Berlin Office
Dr. Sebastian Dullien, Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR Berlin Office
The Berlin office organized the first in the series of planned TTIP workshops with great success. We were hosted by the Mercator Foundation and, as with our very successful “politics meets markets” workshop, it was done in a small round of about 20 high-ranking experts. We were lucky to have leading advocates from some of the most influential NGOs in this debate (Foodwatch and Campact), representatives from German business federations as well as some of the leading actors at the governmental level from the ministry of economic affairs, the foreign ministry and the DG Trade/EU Commission. A lot of ground was covered, from the current state of negotiations to the concerns and hopes of the business sector. It became clear that the most controversial issues are the elements of investor protection and regulatory harmonization. NGOs fear the loss of policy space and a fixing of the current level of deregulation through an international treaty. Moreover, they fear that increasing standards e.g. in areas of food safety or environmental standards will become very difficult once TTIP is in place. The business sector made clear that in their eyes, both tariff reduction as well as regulatory cooperation are of high importance while investor protection is of secondary importance. NGOs came in for criticism for focusing too much on risks and for not seeing the potential benefits such as a lifting of GDP per capita by a few hundred euros over the coming decade. It was also claimed by some participants that there was a nationalistic element in the German debate as some of the issues German NGOs criticise are not a public issue in other EU countries.
We got extremely positive feedback from some of the participants as we managed to move a heated and often emotional debate into a structured and more or less rational framework. Moreover, the workshop was a good start for collecting and mapping the national red lines.