News Release — General Assembly
November 2, 2015
E-mail: [email protected]
Montpelier, Vermont—The Vermont Commission on International Trade and State Sovereignty, in partnership with the Vermont Council on World Affairs, will host a meeting with Members of the European Parliament and members of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators to address policy issues of common concern in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the European Union. The meeting will be held on Friday, November 6, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the University of Vermont’s George D. Aiken Center, Room 311. The meeting is open to the public.
Following an introduction and welcome from Nancy Matthews, Dean of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Resources at the University of Vermont, the meeting will consist of a series of presentations and discussion groups lead by European and state panelists on issues of common concern arising in TTIP, including renewable energy and climate change, State procurement and farm-to-school practices, regulatory cooperation on pesticides and chemicals, and GMO labeling. The purpose of the meeting is to facilitate a dialogue between U.S. state and European stakeholders, business groups, executive branch officials, and academics on the potential effects of TTIP on issues of national and subnational sovereignty and public policy, and to explore specific action steps stakeholders can take to support Vermont’s interests and to increase cooperation between state, federal, and European stakeholders with similar policy objectives.
Panelists will include: Reinhard Bütikofer (Germany), a Member of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA) and the Co-Chair of the European Green Party (EGP); Bart Staes, MEP (Groen, Belgium), a member of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament since 1999; Martin Koehler, the Advisor on International Trade of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and the Advisor of the Group on Transatlantic Relations; Simon McKeagney, the Editor and Campaign Manager for the Greens/EFA group’s TTIP campaign in the European Parliament; New Hampshire State Representative Bob Backus, an Assistant Majority Leader, and member of the Science, Technology and Energy Committee; Iowa State Representative Charles Isenhart, the ranking member on the Environmental Protection committee; Massachusetts State Representative Denise Provost, a member of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the Joint Committees on Higher Education; Revenue; and State Administration and Regulatory Oversight; Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Director of Trade, Technology and Global Governance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP); and Sharon Anglin Treat, a lawyer and public policy consultant, member of the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission, and a member of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The presentations are designed to increase awareness of the potential impacts of international trade agreements. According to Gail Stevenson, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on World Affairs: “One of the mandates of the Vermont Council on World Affairs is to provide information about global issues to the business and policy communities. The current TTIP trade negotiations and relations with our European neighbors touch upon issues that will have an impact on Vermont businesses. We are delighted to be able to work with the Vermont Commission on International Trade and State Sovereignty to highlight them.” Add Senator Ginny Lyons and Rep. Kathleen Keenan, Co-Chairs of Vermont’s Commission of International Trade and State Sovereignty, “understanding challenges posed by TTIP on agricultural, energy, local procurement, and other policies is important to Vermont’s economy. Meeting with representatives of the European Parliament gives state regulators, businesses, and legislators an opportunity to respond to those challenges.”
The meeting was organized in cooperation with Sharon Treat, a former Maine state legislator. Treat is a consultant on trade policy for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and will be presenting at the meeting on two papers she authored, on TTIP and U.S. states’ food labeling policies, and TTIP and U.S. states’ chemical and pesticides policies. The members of the European Parliament attending the Vermont meeting hosted Ms. Treat this summer for a six‑country series of forums in the EU on TTIP, and this visit is an opportunity to connect with U.S. legislators and continue a dialogue on TTIP on this side of the Atlantic. The EU delegation’s visit to Vermont follows meetings in Washington, D.C. earlier in the week with members of Congress and representatives of labor, environmental, and food policy organizations.
According to Treat, “This meeting presents a unique opportunity to share research and perspectives between key members and staff of the European Parliament and U.S state government policymakers from Vermont and several other states, who are interested and engaged in trade policy and how it will impact consumer, food, and environmental protections on both sides of the Atlantic.”