U.S./E.U. Bishops: Free Trade Requires Regulatory Framework And Ethical Principles

June 16, 2016 By Public Affairs Office

 The Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the United States and the European Union adopted a common position on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) prior to the 14th round of negotiations in July 2016.

For the first time in their histories, the United States' Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) issued a common position on a social concern of importance to citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. The proposed "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" will have a direct impact on the lives of almost a billion people, not to mention the expected consequences of the new standards deriving from that agreement for third countries.

Following joint discussions in the summer of 2014 and a review by the USCCB committees on International Justice and Peace, and Domestic Justice and Human Development, the USCCB and COMECE collaborated in the development of a common statement on the free trade agreement that is under negotiation.

Given the highly polarized debate on the TTIP, the bishops offer a moral "toolbox" for evaluation of the agreement. They state their firm conviction that free trade can be truly beneficial and potentially contribute to a better future for all, provided that it promotes equitable access for all persons to the goods of this world and that it is structured in a way that helps to reduce inequality or injustice. As Pope Francis wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Cameron in the context of a G7 meeting: "The goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable"(June 17, 2013).

To evaluate this agreement – with a thorough social and environmental analysis – the bishops offer nine ethical principles based on the Catholic Social Teaching. These principles include:

″   sustainability and precaution that imply that priority must be given to the prevention of harm to present or future generations rather than to the pursuit of profits.

″   the protection of workers and their families and the preservation of their just rights in compliance with internationally-agreed labor standards.

″   Sustainable Development, including assistance to poor countries, and Care for Creation that are not mutually exclusive but complementary. Trade agreements must give " priority attention to protecting the environment and health of communities".

″   Many people are concerned or feel excluded from the current negotiation process. Therefore, the bishops underline the principle of participation of citizens in decisions that impact their lives. They propose the creation of appropriate fora and mechanisms.

The joint declaration was signed by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB President, and Reinhard Cardinal Marx, COMECE President.

The full text of the joint statement can be found here: https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/comece-usccb-recommendations-on-ttip-negotiations-2016-06-14.cfm.

Keywords :, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Trade, , Policy, Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, COMECE, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), TTIP
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Matt Palmer
O: 202-541-3309