For fear of sabotaging the corporate-friendly TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and European Union, the car industry buried a report showing major discrepancies between the safety records of U.S. and EU vehicles, according to exclusive reporting in The Independent on Wednesday.
Citing a leaked version of the analysis (pdf), which has since been “quietly posted on the University of Michigan’s website,” reporter Paul Gallagher wrote:
The findings showed “substantial differences in performance,” Gallagher wrote. “Of particular concern to safety groups is the finding that passengers in a typical EU model are 33 per cent safer in front-side collisions, an accident that often results in serious injury, than those in a typical U.S. model.”
As the second- and third-largest vehicle producers in the world, the EU and U.S. together account for roughly one-third of global vehicle production, according to a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service in 2014.
In announcing that the report had been commissioned in May 2014, the industry lobbyists noted that “[u]nder a TTIP, the two regions would represent the largest share of auto production and sales ever covered by a single trade agreement.”
Indeed, observers such as economist and author Martin Whitlock have pointed out that “cars form a big part of the EU’s case for TTIP.”
In a briefing published Thursday, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), a Brussels-based nonprofit, explained: “The car industry is hoping to be one of the biggest beneficiaries from a TTIP agreement, partly by removing tariffs on imports, but mainly by removal of so-called non-tariff measures (NTMs). One example of NTMs is the fact that car manufacturers have to meet two separate sets of safety and environmental standards for the EU and US markets.”
In 2013, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers—which represents companies including BMW, Toyota, and Volvo—stated that regulatory differences between the U.S. and EU “can act as non-tariff barriers to trade,” in turn raising costs for consumers.
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