EU Hides Behind 'Private' Standards in Effort to Secure Global Regulatory Control

Developing Countries May Have New Grounds to Bring WTO Actions Against


Oct 09, 2007, 01:00 ET from Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development

    PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the current issue
 of the Global Trade and Customs Journal, international trade and regulatory
 lawyer Lawrence Kogan details how the European Union and its member states
 previously enlisted private European environmental standards bodies to
 promote official government sustainable forest management policies that
 likely violated the World Trade Organization rights of developing countries
 and their industries. In addition, the article describes how these same EU
 governments are behind the ongoing efforts of other European pressure
 groups to promote, via United Nations agencies and international
 standardization organizations, the adoption by global industry supply
 chains of overly strict corporate social responsibility standards.
     According to Mr. Kogan, "It is no secret that the EU aspires to 'usurp
 America's role as a source of global standards,' and to become 'the world's
 regulatory capital' and 'standard-bearer.'" Therefore, it is natural that
 they would endeavor to employ whatever nontransparent means are available
 to push their regulatory control agenda forward." As EU trade commissioner
 Peter Mandelson claimed in a prior speech, 'exporting our rules and
 standards around the world is one source [and expression] of European
     Two recent articles appearing in the Financial Times and the Economist
 confirm this assessment. "The Commission, the EU's executive body, states
 openly that it wants other countries to follow EU rules and its officials
 are working hard to put that vision into practice... [T]he Union [has]... a
 body of law running to almost 95,000 pages -- a set of rules and
 regulations that covers virtually all aspects of economic life and that is
 constantly expanded and updated. Compared with other jurisdictions, the
 EU's rules tend to be stricter, especially where product safety, consumer
 protection and environmental and health [sustainable development]
 requirements are concerned."
     The European regulatory model is worrisome, emphasizes Kogan,
 paraphrasing from one article, especially "because 'it rests on the
 [standard-of-proof-diminishing, burden-of-proof-reversing,
 guilty-until-proven-innocent, I-fear-therefore-I-shall-ban, hazard-(not
 risk)-based] Precautionary Principle', which is inconsistent with both WTO
 law and US constitutionally-guaranteed private property rights." As another
 article reaffirms, "In Europe corporate innocence is not assumed. Indeed, a
 vast slab of EU laws...reverses the burden of proof, asking industry to
 demonstrate that substances are harmless...[T]he philosophical gap reflects
 the American constitutional tradition that everything is allowed until it
 is forbidden, against the Napoleonic tradition codifying what the state
 allows and banning everything else."
     "Notwithstanding its knowledge of Europe's extraterritorial
 activities," warns Kogan, "the 110th US Congress may soon ratify the UN Law
 of the Sea Convention without all of its committees possessing oversight
 jurisdiction having first adequately reviewed in public hearings its
 45-plus environmental regulatory articles -- which also incorporate
 Europe's Precautionary Principle! This would essentially open up the
 floodgates to a tsunami of costly non-science and non-economics-based
 environmental laws, regulations and standards that would abridge Americans'
 Fifth Amendment rights, impair U.S. industry's global economic
 competitiveness and fundamentally reshape the American legal and free
 enterprise systems.
     The Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD)
 is a non-partisan non-profit international legal research and educational
 organization that examines international law relating to trade, industry
 and positive sustainable development around the world. This ITSSD study and
 related materials are accessible online at: KOGAN - Discerning the Forest
 from the Trees.pdf, and
     Lawrence Kogan

SOURCE Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development