Trade deal with US 'could undermine EU standards' and put NHS at risk

Vince Cable will call for greater transparency within the trade partnership

A trade deal between Europe and the United States has come under fire amid claims that it undermines European cosmetics standards and could put the NHS at risk.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement to reduce regulatory barriers for business, has been dubbed “a race to the bottom” after reports that there will be no harmonisation between Europe and America on what substances are prohibited in cosmetics.

Nick Dearden, a director at the campaign group Global Justice Now, told The Independent: “Companies which produce with chemicals which are not even allowed in the European Union will still be able to sell into our markets, undercutting standards we’ve democratically agreed on. It’s a race to the bottom, which doesn’t pitch the EU against the US, but people’s rights against big business.”

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, will today call for greater transparency within the trade partnership in a meeting with the EU trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom.

Separately, the trade union Unite called on David Cameron to use his veto to protect the NHS from potential legal risks from TTIP.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “There is no doubt that NHS services are being included in TTIP.  As a result there is the risk of irreversible privatisation because the deal will give US corporations or investors the right to sue our government if it tried to take back services into public ownership.”