Sunday, September 28, 2003

U.S. Pressures Europe to Stop Caring So Much About Environment and Health

I've written before here and here about the European precautionary principle, "a doctrine enshrined in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty among European Union members, governments should protect their populations against risk, even before all the data are compiled," and how they're whipping American companies into shape. And I've written about how the tactics used by U.S. companies here -- major lobbying dollars arguing that regulations are too costly, they'll drive us out of business, etc. -- don't work in Europe.

You may recall a recent American Prospect article which described the American objections.
Last year, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Rockwell Schnabel, complained in a Wall Street Journal Europe op-ed that European regulators did not take enough business input into their decisions and that they were concentrating too much on environment and health at the expense of growth and trade.

Now Britain's Independent Portfolio has uncovered documents showing that
President George Bush is mounting an intensive campaign to force European countries to drop safety tests expected to save thousands of lives each year.


The documents - which include diplomatic cables signed by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell - show that the Bush administration has threatened Europe with trade sanctions if it goes ahead with the tests, which are designed to protect workers and the public from highly toxic chemicals.
The interest among European workers and consumers is clear:
The European Commission estimates that it would prevent up to 4,300 cases of cancer a year among chemical workers alone; far more lives could be expected to be saved among the public at large.
Pressure from the Bush Administration seems to be having some effect. Like the war on Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has once again jumped onto George Bush's lap. The British government
which has been generally supportive, last week denounced the measures as "disastrously wrong".