I accept that at first blush it might seem odd to link words such as play, children, teenagers, risk-taking to the international trade talks currently being conducted between the European Union and the United States of America. But there is a link, and it is potentially a threatening one. The talks, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has as its general aim the lowering of what are described as ‘barriers’ to trade between, in this case, the EU and the USA.
One aspect of the so-named ‘barriers’ are Standards. Standards in respect of, among others things: environmental protection; specification of electrical goods; of additives to food; in respect of cosmetics and testing; and standards in respect of, well, play equipment and playground surfacing.
The TTIP negotiations are conducted in virtual secrecy – itself a major source of concern – but Greenpeace has managed to acquire confidential papers that reveal, in part at least, the state of play between the parties. The now released confidential papers are, says Greenpeace, at some variance from the EU’s publicly expressed opinion. Part of what is revealed is the US demand that the EU be put under an obligation to inform the US, in advance, of any planned regulations and to allow them the same ‘input into EU regulatory processes as European firms’ (Source: Guardian. 2 May). Continue reading