Corporate Europe Observatory | A fast track to weaker food standards


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High tariffs on exports to the US could hit European car manufacturers hard, and, in particular, weaken the German economy. Thus, since the threat was first made by Donald Trump in April 2018, the European Commission has made a big diplomatic effort to avoid it coming to pass. In April 2019 the Commission, and EU governments in the Council, agreed on mandates for two areas of trade talks with the US: industrial tariffs and “conformity assessments” – the latter refers to procedures to ascertain whether a product can be approved and deemed to have conformed to EU standards.

Finally, there is the matter of pesticides. A very unique situation could provide an opportunity for the Commission to give the US a major concession without doing anything. At the moment there is a strange contradiction between the rules on the use of pesticides within the EU and the rules governing imports of goods with pesticide residues.  On some substances, the EU has adopted a zero tolerance approach - a hazard based approach - which means that there cannot be any detectable residues in goods sold in the EU. However, the rules on imports are vague on this matter, and under pressure from some member states,  the US and agribusiness lobby groups, the Commission has come to accept that the rules should be interpreted to allow some residues in imported goods that are not allowed in goods which were produced in the EU. 


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