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Annexe I : Les Entretiens


Questionnaire pour les ONG

I. Views of the TAED

How do NGOs and governments each form a part of the TAED?

How do they each make use of the TAED?

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

Do the European and American environmental NGOs have different agendas and points?

II. Views on NGO/Government Relations

How do NGOs consider their relationship with the governement in the TAED?

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

III. Treatment of NGO Demands

How do governments evaluate and treat the demands or pressures from the NGOs involved in the TAED?

How do NGOs make their demands legitimate to the government?

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?


Questionnaire pour les Gouvernants

I. Government views of the TAED

How do the governments form a part of the TAED?

How do the governments make use of the TAED? (How is it useful for them?)

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

II. Views on NGO/Government Relations

How do the governments consider their relationship with the NGOs in the TAED?

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

III. Treatment of NGO Demands

How do governments evaluate and treat the demands or pressures from the NGOs involved in the TAED?

What makes certain NGO demands more legitimate than others?

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?


Entretien A : Biodiversity Action Network

Coordinator

Washington DC, 21 décembre 1999

How do NGOs and governments each form a part of the TAED and make use of it?

OK, good question...

I guess the easy one first...Governments promoted, stimulated NGOs to get this all started and you'll talk to John Audley and you'll know in detail how that ran so you can ask him about the details because he was involved in the pre-eminence...The reason why, the cynical version of that is, it's basically a fig leaf for very good relations that government has on both sides of the Atlantic with the Transatlantic Business Dialogue. You know the context of the Transatlantic Economic Partnership...The Transatlantic Economic Partnership is a transatlantic agenda and so when you talk about that agenda it only makes sense to do that transatlantically and it's been common practice for many years that NGOs actually actively intervene in the negotiation processes. We do that a lot, my organization does that a lot in the UN system with the conventional ecological diversity and commercial sustainable development and things like that. This is in a way a similar process but it's a bilateral dialogue between the two largest trading blocks in the world. And so it's only natural that the dialogue that we have is not just between us and the US administration but between us and the Europeans as well

How to make use of it I think, for some of them it's a learning experience for the governments some of these people have very little interaction with what is known in Europe as civil society, what you call the NGOs. They understand that in order for their trade agenda to move forward, they will need to take concerns of the xxx they don't ordinary are that familiar with so they use the dialogues for that purpose. They also use it, or try to use it, it's sometimes to a laughable extent, they try to set each other up by asking NGOs for their opinion knowing what our opinion is and basically playing little games saying, "You see, the NGOs agree with me." They don't do that too often but sometimes, the US administration asks us about transparency, they are plying with the EU to get the EU to be more transparent but you know you can question the real and the xx of this constance because even though the rules might be more transparent, if you note that the system is more transparent in Europe. I understand the system there and having lived here for a while I understand the system here as well and you know think there's transparency in the rules but then in reality it's not necessarily actually happening in the substance and vice versa so... Here and around Europeans like the openings about labeling so they're all saying to the uses, listen more to the NGOs - so that's kind of how it goes, it's very ...I think as time goes by the relationship will become more complex and more substantive and some of those initial concerns that we have and we still have about these dialogues being a fig leaf for the business agenda I think will kind of go away. But there is a concern and we've actually expressed it to President Clinton...

Fig leaf, how would you define this term?

Well you know you can say, there are these dialogues and we take them seriously and we listen to them and we take our concerns into account and as you probably know there's several dialogues, the business dialogue is the older one, and this one's the most established and governments listen extremely well to what business wants and they have a leverage system of making sure that their concerns are actually taken into account and also making, if they listen as well through environmental concerns that would be quite an accomplishment so... they couldn't continue having only a business dialogue in this context - it would be too blatant and undemocratic really so you know there's lots of damage in society and short term commercial banks are one of them.

In terms of just the NGOs, do the European and American environmental NGOs already come into the dialogue with different agendas and different points?

Yes, you can see that to some extent. One particular example is that Europeans have a very specific agenda on issues related to industry - chemicals, industry, toxics and that area. And US NGOs didn't really see that as priority. So in establishing the structure of the TAED and the agenda for the first meeting there was a little back and forth and looking at different issues, whether they should be on the agenda for those meetings or not. The structure is open in the sense that anybody can bring in their agenda point but if there's no counterpart, there's of course little use in working on it and then of course there's also priorities and whether they're political opportunities at a given point in time so you know you might be on the long list but you might not be actually talking about the particular point until two years later. That's been an issue, that's not a big issue, it's just one of the things.

How do NGOs then view their relationship with the government?

There's definitely still a relationship of putting pressure on public officials to be accountable, to listen to concerns that we have and to take those into account. In a few places, as I said there are some government officials who really have a clue on certain issues that we care about, so yes we serve as a source of information to try to bring in new dimensions to a particular issue and in that way move your agenda forward.

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

That's hard to tell. I don't work closely with the Commission. I only work with the US administration, so you know I just have stories from my European colleagues. I think the Europeans have in my impression shown to be more serious. But it's very relative. Like one of the contentions right now is that US administrations refuses to provide written answers to questions and statements that we've made while the European Commission has done so. It took them a while, but they have. And they intend to continue to do so. So we've been pressuring the US administration. We'll be addressing this point on Friday with Clinton saying we want you tell the administration that this is the way we do business. I don't know whether he's going to do that or not. For us, putting your responses in writing shows that you're more serious about the dialogue actually progressing rather than having meetings where you talk and talk and of course you can make notes and minutes but that doesn't bring it forward in my opinion.

We will all have limits of resources - particularly people, so to decide what is a priority is always a difficulty. And if you start something new that has not shown to have any value, that is only going to take energy without any clear prospective of results, is difficult. And especially, as I said in the beginning, the fact that it was the administration and the Commission pushing NGOs to engage in this dialogue was a clear sign that they needed this fig leaf for the fact that they had these in-depth, extensive relations with the TABD. NGOs weren't particularly excited about providing that fig leaf so they wanted assurances that this was going to be a real dialogue and a serious process. And that question is still on the table. It's still a concern, it's not as much a proper concern as when we started, but it's there absolutely. For example, the US government is funding the dialogue at a much lower level than the European Commission or the European Parliament and they are phasing it out so after 2000 they will stop funding it. The Europeans basically have a fairly certain level of funding for at least another two years and probably longer than that. Now this is in part because of the differences in the way we work anyway. NGO-government relations in Europe in general are more open in the sense that there's better subcontracting that takes place all the time which is something that US NGOs are very uncomfortable with and some NGOs in Europe are uncomfortable with it as well but it's a very common phenomena. In a way it was unusual for this dialogue to be started with funds exclusively from the USIA which is now the State Department. It was a separate agency. But the fact that that money will run out at the end of the 2000 is interesting and then the question is if the dialogue is mature enough to continue. So is there on one hand sufficient belief at the NGO side that this is worthwhile and that it needs to continue and on the other hand are there donors interested in sustaining a dialogue of that nature. And then you get into loads and loads of questions, for example, is it even appropriate to have a dialogue on these issues, primarily trade related because that's the overarching framework but we are trying to expand that framework by adding our concerns on climate, on biodiversity, forest issues, industry issues - all kinds of difficulties that we feel should also be taken into account when we look at these bilateral relations. But for the two largest trading blocks to be having a dialogue without involving developing countries is not something we are entirely comfortable with and so one of the things that is quite likely to happen is that we will actively start bringing in Southern NGOs. For example if you saw after Seattle, the US in particular came back to the environmental community saying we can't help it, this is your problem. You should talk to your Southern counterparts and to Southern governments because nobody wants to support your agenda, your environmental agenda at the WTO. Which is in my opinion a misrepresentation of what's going on and of course in the bilateral discussions between the US and the EU, this argument is used a lot. We can't move ahead on this because of the Southern countries, not because of the fact that we can't agree. But then when we have very specific demands where it's exclusively between the US and the EU they still don't move forward, so it's an indication that there's more to the equation than they would like us to see. But that's only one issue that I would like to see resolved.

You mentioned that what the NGOs would like within the TAED is for governments to respond with a written response. If they're not doing this, then how are they evaluating and treating the NGO's demands?

Well they say that through the dialogue that it basically gets fed into the process when they prepare their own decisions and their negotiations. But that's for example on the issue of forests which is something that I understand even though the US trade representative's office proclaimed in the most recent meeting that they have done exactly what we had asked them to, that was a blatant lie. You know, you can spin it as much as you'd like, but the negotiating position of the United States was to continue to have the accelerated xxx liberalization even though we told them that the impact both in the narrow sense because part of it was in forest products and in the wider sense because another component of that liberalization factor concerns agriculture which has a huge impact on the forest. We told them don't do it. This is creating all the damage and it sets the agenda off for the negotiations that we are even more strongly opposed to. And then they come back to us and say we did what you asked us which of course isn't true. We have a little inside information about these negotiations and that's our job.

And I think ultimately the matter will be whether we are satisfied with just the increased access or whether we will decide it's not worth it to have that level of access without the progress. And that's going to be a very difficult discussion but I don't think that's going to take place for another year.

How do NGOs try to make their propositions legitimate to the government?

Well, there's different ways of making it legitimate. Some people like to emphasize that they represent so many million members for example. But like my organization, I have only institutional members. All of my members are other NGOs working on environmental issues and we represent them at the global level in very particular issues of negotiations so most often it's the substance. We know issues. We're going to stand issues. We try to explain to the government why we want them to do certain things and we back it up. I mean you're only as good as the underfeeling of whatever it is you're doing which in some cases includes an intellectual base. I mean if you look at what happened in Seattle besides the fact that there were a few riots which were grossly overestimated on the media, the fact was that this was the largest demonstration since Vietnam. People were concerned with the accountability and transparency of the WTO, they were concerned with damage to the environment caused by trade liberalization and all kinds of other issues. The fact that public pressure was there to some extent contributed to the fact that these negotiations didn't conclude. They're still ongoing and they're going to continue to go on. But there was a PR disaster in terms of the WTO not being able to conclude in negotiations so there's different walls that NGOs play in and if we don't have support from the street, from individual voters, no matter how good our research or how well phrased our proposals, nobody's going to listen. And the reason why government likes to listen to business in part is because they represent jobs which represent voters but also they represent money and offices need money.

In this case, governments always seek to expand their legitimacy and having a dialogue with representatives of civil society is part of creating legitimacy because if they don't, there are people who will say, see this government cannot be trusted because they only talk to business or this government ignores my concerns and therefore I will vote for somebody else.

Dialogue and pressure are necessary components of the mix, in my opinion. I truly believe that, which is a little counterintuitive in a city like Washington DC, but I believe the European perspective that if you don't have public support that's visible in different ways you're not going to achieve your objectives so the dialogue is important because it creates a personal relationship with people which is important because that creates a certain level of trust so that rather than seeing each other as opponents you see each other as working together and that's why I believe, and I think we can show for that, you make progress. If that doesn't happen in the larger context or there being expressed concern in society that things need to move in a particular direction, there is no incentive for people to sit down together to do these kinds of things, so I believe that if the pressure outside drops off, the pressure on the inside to actually accomplish something is lower.

So we talked some about the different motivations of NGOs and government, are there any common goals of the two in this dialogue?

That's hard. I think at a very high level of abstraction, yes, there are common goals. I think in a globalizing world increased understanding is important and I think everybody recognizes that. So just as government is struggling with understanding each other, we have that same struggle. There's cultural differences, there's differences in the context in which we work at home and you know you're bringing all that baggage to the table when you start talking or negotiating or having a dialogue so at that level there's definitely a common goal...

That you have to work together better...

Yes and I think that if you formulate it in an abstract enough way everyone will say that the reason why we're doing this because we want development patterns to be sustainable although when we start looking about at the specifics of what sustainable means, people will probably end up in different corners of the room. But at least there is this, you know, rather vague agreement that there needs to progress and that that progress needs to be sustainable, etcetera. The fact that there is a dialogue and the second one was better than the first one, the fact that we are actually going to go into some substance now as opposed to the general kind of trying to cover everything all the time, we will actually move onto specific issues, try to tackle those. I consider that progress.


Entretien B : Defenders of Wildlife

U.S. TAED Coordinator

Washington DC, 21 décembre 1999

How do NGOs and governments each form a part of the TAED?

The TAED is just environmental groups. The governments are not a part of it at all so you've got, we've got a US TAED and an EU TAED and we get together, with every decision that the TAED makes is, both sides are represented and we battle it out. We don't really battle that much, we usually come to some kind of agreement but we don't make the decision with the government together. I think there's probably about 25 groups on each side on the US and the EU and then there are five working group to kind of figure out what we're going to do. Most big issues, we try to get input from all the other groups and for the most part it's hard to track down all the groups, to find them to make the decision. So unless we have everyone together, we appoint. We thought we were going to have two big meetings a year...

We've got one coordinator, or two coordinators for each working group, one for the US, one for the EU, so we have 10 coordinators. It's hard to get everyone's input and to get other organizations to commit. I would like to give more time and I know Meredyth would like to give more time, but we don't get the money for it. Most of the funding goes to travel, to get members of the TAED to the meetings, their hotels, food, reports, stuff like that. As far as the government goes, they, we don't really know a lot about how they work. The US government has what they call an inter-agency process. Members of all the different sectors of government are all supposed to come together and throw out ideas and come up with a statement together. One of the problems that the TAED has with government is that they don't deliver a response statement to us. US TR, their main thing is trade, but a lot of their issues are related to environment...So they gave us a pretty nice guy, Frank Loyd, and I think they gave him to us because he comes from an NGO background. So we get to meet with Loyd. We think it's kind of strange that the EPA doesn't include concerns on wildlife. Some people are happy with him, others think he's just all talk. I don't know how the EU does it, ...

The governments wanted a transatlantic dialogue because there was this business dialogue that had incredible feedback. They got great access and not just access to individuals but also the attention and...And the US government...The problems the TABD found are now out of there. The government listened to them. The business community is so happy with the government in their dialogue, the TABD 50% of their recommendations are met which makes us say what's going on here. So we said that we want a direct response. But they still they cannot do that, the US inter-agency process is just too big and it's too confusing and we just can't do it. The EU has done it. My response is the EU is 15 countries and the US is one. I know we're big, but...So as far as, that's pretty much how the government forms a part.

So negotiations within the TAED are inter-NGO...

We do invite government officials to some parts of the big meetings. The government officials that come are usually pretty high up. The last meeting we decided to also invite some staff level government officials.

In terms of the American and European NGOs, are there differences in the agendas that they bring to the table?

Not really. For the most part on the big issues we think alike. There's one thing that kind of makes me upset...

We kind of think we're wasting our time talking with the US government at these meetings when we could be talking with the NGOs. We can talk to the government every day, but for the European NGOs, this is their only chance to get to the US government. We're not deadset against the American government, but I would be fine if we just talked to the NGOs about goals and what we're really going to try to do...

How do each make use of the TAED?

One thing that we thought was useful, you know the US would tell us that the EU or the EU NGOs were blocking them in going forth on our recommendations. Now they can't. I think the US tries to use the EU to make the US look better in our eyes. So they definitely use it too. I think the EU probably tried to use it to get greater support for bio... stuff.

It's also a greenwash tool for the governments...and this is with Americans tax dollars, $100,000

It's helpful to get more information and share information with other NGOs but at the end of the day is this really useful? All the NGOs are great, but there's a lot of work to be done.

How do NGOs see their relationship with government in this dialogue?

It's definitely not partners. I don't think we're partners. The governments always try to say that we're going to be partners and we're going to do this together we're going to have this great dialogue but I wouldn't say we're partners. I would say we're...I don't want to say that everyone in the government is horrible. There's one guy in the EPA that I really like. There are some that I think really do want it...I don't know why they're working for the government. I guess they think that by working there they can change things, but I don't. I'm very skeptical. What was the question again?

How do NGOs see their relationship with the government...

I think we're just one interest group that, out of many, there's also the consumer dialogue, that for the most part is not really a priority for the US administration. Their issues are of a higher level concern. We're just one interest group. They say we have a dialogue, but they don't really give us answers so that's not even really a dialogue. We'll go in to the meetings and we'll sit down and they'll say, "Well, we want to know what you think." And we get so frustrated and want to say, "No, you know what we think because we've given you five documents in the last five months so you know exactly what we think. We want to know what you're doing." We want to know what they're going to do.

The NGO's role is pressure. It's definitely not a mediator. One of the ways that we do that...We can get information from the EU. They tell us what the US is doing that we don't know about. One of our working groups is on industry and that's kind of a weird group...Sometimes we'll get a document that's been released by the EU that their NGOs haven't got...But it's definitely pressure. It's not a mediator role at all.

Is there one of the two governments that's more committed to listening to your views, to making efforts within the dialogue?

Well, I don't know about the EU government. The US government thinks they are more committed and I'm sure the EU government does as well. As far as the TR goes, and that's what I'm working on most, it depends on the issue...

How do governments evaluate and treat the NGO demands?

It's funny, if you asked me this a few months ago, I probably would have been...But after the WTO, I just feel like they don't care at all about what we're saying. For them, they have to meet with us so they can say that they are but they don't really do anything. They would be so appalled to hear us say this, but when you look at the results at the end of the day, what have we gotten? We've gotten nothing. They want to say that they try so hard, but, you know, they only try for easy things and transparency is the easiest so they try with that. Things that we've said over and over to them, things that we hate so much, they didn't go with us at all. They pushed for them, things that we said we didn't want. So they say that they've been doing all these great things.

What was the question again?

In terms of treatment of NGO demands-

I think it's a lot of lip service. I think on issues that the trade ministry's pushing, they're more receptive to say OK, maybe we can try to do that. On issues where we talk about trade, biotechnology, timber, we don't stand a chance. Investment, business in the US ministers are saying, "well, that's not a priority for us." Any chance we have of really getting them to really work on our issues are only going to be on the issues that business is interested in. So I guess that's my answer, whatever industry really feels strongly about is treated.

We keep asking them what their plans are and they say what they will try to do. One thing that makes us kind of upset is that we don't really get ...and the government officials who go ...that's annoying but substantively what we really want...it's one thing to and another to... They ignore us. They say they want our recommendations. But then they don't do anything. We've thought about whether or not we should even have an environmental dialogue. We've debated it for about a year.

We're very careful about saying we're independent.

They always tell us that they tried so hard, that they tried as hard as they could, to get the things we want, but that they just couldn't because no one else supported them. I don't believe that. I think that... Clinton does seem to say that he wants environmental issues on the WTO agenda...But then they never tell their negotiators to go through on it. They say it's all so complicated, but if they really wanted something done, I think they'd do it...I'm very skeptical.

So NGOs are just getting increased information in terms of documents and access to officials?

When you say it like that, it sounds like, "what the hell are we complaining about?"

We are getting access. That is definitely true. And we've already had access to the US government so we're getting access to the EU that we've never had. And the US is giving it to the EU which they've never had. And we are getting access to the overall process a little bit. We've never been allowed...and now we're allowed, it's already something. The access to officials...the doors have been opened a little bit, but they need to be opened a lot more.


Entretien C : Global Environment and Trade Study

Assistant Director of Programs

Yale University, Connecticut, 29 février 2000

How do NGOs and government each form a part of the TAED?

The TAED is really just NGOs - it's not government. And the way it works is if you're a European or American based NGO, you have a formal invitation to join. Really it's open to anyone that is considered a non-government organization. I'm a student but I work for a professor who has formed an NGO with three other people. So as a research assistant to him on that project, I'm considered an NGO.

Discussions do not really take the form of a formal negotiation. TAED meetings begin with US and EU NGOs convening and talking about different issues. After breaking into working groups, the NGOs then meet with government officials for an official briefing. This is usually nothing more than an exchange of views and recommendations. Talks are aimed mostly at educational efforts - NGOs attempting to convey their positions to government officials.

We formally launched the dialogue in May 1999 in Brussels. It didn't really exist before then. We had a meeting, I guess a few months before in Paris, where NGOs got together and talked about forming this dialogue. But they didn't actually formally launch it until that May meeting. I'm not real clear on who funded that and who got that together. I know that Mark Ritchie had something to do with that, but I don't know if there was actually already something from the governments for that meeting or not.

We set up a steering committee that sort of takes care of most of the nitty gritty stuff, the dirty work. Since we're dealing with 50 groups right now, you really can't have...you know, each group to have their own individual interactions with the government, but in order for the TAED to interact, you need to have some body that represents the group as a whole, so we have a steering committee with a representative from each of the working groups that does a lot of the organizing for us, that at certain points during the year tries to get together and meet with officials when the groups as a whole can't do it. So that's sort of how it works.

The TAED has a general pot of money and we actually hired someone last year, part-time, to help us organize the last big conference that we had in October in Washington. But there isn't a lot of money and it's...we consider it, for a good reason, a secondary commitment, so as far as an action plan or a research plan, a really good one hasn't been developed yet because people haven't really made the jump from being "Friends of the Earth" to being TAED, or being whatever organization to being ...where you need to do things more in function with other groups. In order for it to really be successful, people need to make that mental leap and think of themselves more as this umbrella rather than trying to... not to be their own organization and not compromising at all on their stances on certain things - that's the big thing. If that happens, if that's going to happen a little bit more, then I think the TAED has a...Leap to umbrella organization rather than their individual one...

As for the government, they are the one, the EU and US decided that they wanted to set up these dialogues in 95 or so - there was a business dialogue, a consumers dialogue, there's now a legislative dialogue and so they're basically all set up to provide input on different policy areas to government. So, the TAED is kind of new, we haven't really, what government has been doing, we meet twice a year and have these sessions with them where it's kind of a question and answer format. It's kind of a follow-up to what the governments actually do with our suggestions, with our comments...we haven't really looked through that yet. That's actually what we're going to start with our next meeting.

I think the government really does want the information. I think there is a basic desire to do what's right within the governments and I think there's also a general lack of knowledge about environmental issues unless you're talking to the environment minister or to the Environmental Protection Agency here in the United States. So, I think people who are making trade policy really need to hear what the environmental concerns are, what the consumer or the labor concerns are. So I think there is a real desire for them to make use of us. I think they just...neither side has really figured out how best to do that yet.

So we've just seen how the TAED is useful for the governments, how then do the

NGOs make use of this dialogue?

Well I think it's a good way for us and for the European NGOs to get together and see where we have common positions and where they differ...and also to find ways where they can agree on things and get a larger voice. You know if you can get a large number of NGOs to agree on something and to push government forward, you can have a lot more power than just having a single NGO advocating a submission, especially if that NGO doesn't have very large constituency. There's also a difference between the advocacy NGOs and the analytical ones. My organization does not have a constituency. We're all research based so it's goods for those types of groups to interact.

The NGO are interested in creating a larger voice and the government in gaging public opinion.

I think if it does become an established institution it will have a lot more power to go to the governments and say, "Look, this is what we all want. This is what people are advocating on both sides of the Atlantic. If you don't do this, there's going to be a huge uproar. And when you look at past, recent events, like what happened in Seattle, what happened in Montreal, you start to realize that NGOs can be very very powerful and they can get word out to the public in a very powerful way that people will remember and if government, you know, fails to act in appropriate ways, then...who knows what we'll do, you know, I mean, there's sort of a...I think it's more of a ...a realization of where people stand and what needs to be done. That's sort of the bulk of all of this so far, but no concrete examples of anything, like, no group has changed their position or softened their wording or you know, has changed their tactics or anything like that.

For it to be a true dialogue, there has to be...I mean part of it's there - we have the interactions with governments at least twice a year. There are also other opportunities where TAED gets to meet with government officials so...It's just that we have two big meetings a year where everyone sort of gets put in a room with them and we have an interaction. But in order for it to be a true dialogue, there needs to be a little bit more of a give and take - the governments need to tell us what they want to see if we can work with it and they need to tell us whether our suggestions our being worked on and what they're doing in those areas. So it's sort of a one-way street right now. There isn't much feedback to the suggestions and things like that. And in order for this to be a working dialogue, that really needs to happen and I think when we meet in May, that's one of the big things that's on our agenda is to think about doing something like a score card to see, OK, this is what we've asked them to do or this is what we've suggested that they work on - what areas have they actually done something? And you know, ...look, you are funding us as a dialogue, you want our opinions, you want our advice, now show us that you're taking them into account.

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

The TAED is not really trying to encourage one government to adopt the other's stance. TAED is trying to get the government to agree on a common position that can be applied in bilateral relations.

The TAED also has more of an international policy focus but of course in order to do international policy you have to have implementing domestic legislation, so if they agree on something, then obviously, I think domestic legislation's going to be in both countries so...I mean, it also depends on what area you're talking about. There are five working groups in the TAED, so when you talk about trade policy, trade and environment interaction, that's more of a foreign policy sort of thing that doesn't really necessarily have domestic legislative impasse. When you're talking about things like biodiversity or take-back programs, things like that, that could very well have a huge effect. I mean there are conflicts between measures that the EU wants to take and the US is adamantly opposed to. So if the dialogue could get that together and say look, these measures are actually positive and can convince the US to let them go, then yes, that could have a very large effect on domestic legislation. Ideally this would happen but at this stage it seems very unlikely. The TAED consists of too many groups with differing viewpoints.

In terms of just the NGOs, do the European and American environmental NGOs already come into the dialogue with different agendas and different points?

Well, we've already seen a lot conflicts between groups that are much more liberal and groups that are very conservative. There's some groups that are very far, less on the green spectrum, there's others that are more in the middle, that are willing to work with industry to have a more conservative approach, to try to get industry on board. There are significant differences between US and EU NGOs. EU NGOs tend to be a bit more green - they go a bit further than US groups tend to. The differences are dealt with by watering down position statements so that the statement is vague enough that most groups can sign on. So when you try to draft a statement that comes from the TAED, you end up having something that's very vague and ambiguous because you're trying to get everyone to agree to it and no one wants to compromise. This of course accomplishes very little.

They're all...everyone seems to forget that they're part of this umbrella organization and they're still stuck to their own personal views and their NGO views and it's very hard to find compromise and it's very hard for the TAED to have an effect if they can't come up with a strong statement on anything, if it's always vague and ambiguous, it's not going to have much meaning...I think that's one of the big problems right now. Some groups refuse to budge on their positions because of the views of their individual organizations. This defeats the purpose of presenting a unified front under the umbrella of the TAED.

The wording that you see in these statements is a compromise between 50 groups...Most groups think that unless you word something very strongly, it's just sort of fluff. And if it's going to have any impact on the government, but if you have stronger wording and say "we demand this now" rather than "we suggest you do this sometime in the future." If you say we suggest you do this sometime in the future, it'll never get done. If you say we demand this now, well, six months down the road they might be discussing it.

Different groups work in different ways. I, you know, that kind of wording is not necessarily the most effective, but to a lot of groups, that's the way they word these kinds of statements and that's the way they need to do so that's the way it's been done. And that's part of a reflection of the fact that there isn't a real action plan. You know, we haven't really presented something to the government that said you know, within the next year, this is what we'd like to see action on. We haven't done anything like that...which maybe we should, I don't know.

The TAED was originally formed to respond to the Transatlantic Economic Partnership, a bilateral trade agreement between the US and EU but has expanded to include every environmental issue known to man and some are pushing for the dialogue to include developing country NGOs to make things truly transatlantic. This of course makes no sense because the purpose is to bring the US and EU positions closer.

How do NGOs consider their relationship with the government in the TAED?

The role of the NGO is much like that of a consultant. It's like a very large advisory committee. I think it's partly public advocacy. I think, for ourselves, it's sort of a vangard support group. That's sort of what is was set up to be - to be advisors for the government and then...everybody is representing their own constituency and so in a way they're representing public opinion, so...

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

The EU does respond in writing and the US doesn't. I actually don't know very much about that, but just from the sheer fact that there's a response coming from one side and not from the other, obviously that's a conflict. But I have not actually seen the EU written responses to anything, so I can't really comment.

In terms of treatment of the NGO demands, how do the governments evaluate the demands and pressures of the NGOs in the TAED?

Well that's the thing - we don't know. I personally don't know. There might be members of the steering committee that are a little bit more keener to this, but it hasn't really trickled down, so I can't answer.

So if you don't know how they evaluate them, then you don't know how they treat them.

Right -exactly.

The biggest example of success right now is that the dialogue still exists. But other than that, I mean, I don't think you can point to any policy or anything that's come out of you know, Europe or the United States that you can say "oh yea, it's because of the TAED that that happened." There's nothing like that right now. For the dialogue to continue, we'll need to be able to make the time commitment to actually work as part of the TAED. Everybody has such busy schedules doing their own, you know, full-time work, that doing this on top of it is really difficult. The steering committee has run into this problem. They just are overworked with their own organizations that putting this on top of it - it's like adding another part-time job to an already full-time job. You have to remember, we've only had 2 meetings with everyone there, so this is a very new thing. It's not like the Business Dialogue which has been meeting since 1995 on a regular basis with the CEOs of companies who make the decisions for their companies anyway...this is very different. It's much newer. It doesn't have the money that the businesses do. If you're an NGO and you don't get funding from the government, chance are you're not going to be able to fly to Brussels for a three day meeting for something that's not the top of your agenda. So, you know, there's a big difference there.

How do NGOs make a proposition more legitimate to the government?

At the next meeting, we're going to try and sort of make a check list of what's been done to try to incite government to give you some sort of indication of where they are. I think what's probably going to happen is we'll create the check list and finalize it at the next meeting and then present it to them with the expectation that they will, you know, formally respond to it. But this all kind of in the early stages of being organized right now, so I don't really know how it's going to pan out.

Are there common goals in the TAED between the NGOs and governments?

I guess to a certain extent. I mean I guess the common goal is to find environmental policy that suits everyone's needs. But that's a pretty broad statement - how do you get there is quite complicated and everyone's opinion of how you should get there is different so...getting, even the NGOs that are part of the TAED, they all have different goals and they have different ways of getting there. We're all here to protect the environment, but within that, there's a very large spectrum of ideas and wishes and what not.


Entretien D : US Climate Action Network

International Coordinator

Washington DC, 22 décembre 1999

How do NGOs and governments each form a part of the TAED?

The first plenary session was in May 1999 when the dialogue was formally recognized in Brussels. In September 1998 we had a set-up meeting. Momentum then fell off but was regained when we had a shift in the US steering committee. After this shift due to the fact the committee membership was too trade heavy, other issues were included. The first year since May 99 was spent setting up procedures and process.

Staff and working level government officials come to the TAED meetings with NGOs and then we also meet with technical staff for a less formal exchange of views.

The government participants in the TAED are not always the key policy/decision makers for domestic and international climate policy so climate NGOs are less keen to gear all of the TAED energy towards government recommendations and meetings. Many climate NGOs see the TAED more as an internal NGO information/experience sharing opportunity. I'm speaking mostly for the climate working group because I am most familiar with the dynamics there and I think it's important to recognize the priorities and perspectives of the different TAED working groups.

How do they each make use of the TAED?

The main plugs for NGOs, though, are access to policy makers and the chance to work with colleagues across the ocean.

The TAED itself is part of the whole transatlantic process and in reaction to the Transatlantic Economic Partnership. In this agenda, the environment must be protected. TABD attention had been bothering us for a while and we wanted our own dialogue. Now we have a process that is NGO-driven where we chose the priorities and issues addressed. The government was the first to suggest the dialogue, but the NGOs felt strongly about it too.

Individual NGOs, however, view the dialogue differently depending on their issues. US and EU NGOs on climate have many opportunities to directly lobby key climate negotiators because we attend the UNFCCC climate negotiations which are held two or three times a year. Getting high-level access is important, but more so to some issue groups than to others.

I think the governments view the dialogue as an opportunity to take a trans-Atlantic temperature reading of NGOs on environmental issues. I also get the sense that the government perceptions of the TAED vary among the issues.

In terms of just the NGOs, do the European and American environmental NGOs already come into the dialogue with different agendas and different points?

In fact, both governments and NGOs involved in the TAED recognize the need for smaller, more issue focused dialogues even though it's interesting to address the broad scope of issues presently included in the TAED's five working groups. On the US side of things, our last meeting with US government and US NGOs ended with a plan to conduct smaller meetings on urgent issues of the TAED.

How do NGOs consider their relationship with the governement in the TAED?

NGOs are reactionary in terms of government. We are more pro-active and on hand on technical points.

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

The EU has been much better about responding to the TAED papers. The EU prepared a written response to the first TAED paper while the US limits its responses to oral ones. We have made repeated requests for written responses, but it doesn't seem like the US will change its approach - their reasoning being that it would be too difficult to coordinate a response between all the US agencies involved. While it's true that it would be time-consuming, it is not impossible. The US does give written submissions for UNFCCC climate negotiations on the development of all US positions on inter-agency issues.

We think that if the US can't reply to us, then we can't make any progress in the dialogue. It's not even a real dialogue then. But we're still establishing the dialogue too so maybe that's why the US government doesn't seem to care...

How do governments evaluate and treat the demands or pressures from the NGOs involved in the TAED?

The US refused to respond in writing. They say it's too hard to get all the agencies together. They have orally replied, but only on a very general basis.

I get the sense that the TAED NGO recommendations are addressed with varying levels of effort. This is partly due to the different government-NGO relations on the different issues. On climate, US NGOs have very good government access and communicate and meet with high-level and staff officials fairly frequently. As a result, our recommendations seem to be taken seriously and we are able to follow through with them in subsequent meetings to the TAED. However, in other issues such as biotech, the government-NGO relations are much more shaky with limited access to government and to information.

But at the EU-US Summits, the TAED recommendations have not been adequately addressed. There is obviously a history of the TABD at EU-US Summits but the TAED has yet to be treated with parity. At the last EU-US Summit in DC, the TAED and TACD met very briefly with the heads of State, but not for long enough to have a very substantive discussion of any sort. We are working on improving this.


Entretien E : FERN

Policy Officer

Bruxelles, 13 mars 2000

How do NGOs and government each form a part of the TAED?

If I understand correctly, and I wasn't invited in the beginning of the TAED in the starting up, it's a follow-up dialogue, you might have heard of others, the dialogues on business and on consumers? And it was actually proposed by the governments so it needs to work with the US government on one side and rather than having EU member state governments on the other side, you're dealing with the Commission which is an administration and not a government. That's one thing. So, the simplest way of describing it, you have for trade Bashevsky who represents the US, but then you have Lamy who represents the Commission for trade although in this case the Commission has the lead role in trade negotiations. Then on the EU side, what makes it so complicated, you will get whoever's in charge of the presidency, generally you'll have a representative there but they're not the ones who are leading in the big meetings. It's much more to control what, I think, the Commission would say.

And on the NGO side, it's some doubt, at least in Europe, of being members of the EEB, an organization, but it's much more flexible so depending on what xxx, you can invite new NGOs to be part of you dialogue. And that's what happened with us.

I think that still needs work. There are an awful lot of things to be done to insure that we're actually...the funny thing is, is that we've all grouped biodiversity, not necessarily all within a context of the TAED so there is a dialogue going on but I sort of feel that we don't always quite see where the TAED can support us and in a way that's what it should be doing - it should be supporting our dialogue and ensuring that you know we're able to do maybe more work in enhancing our access to government. It's certainly giving us access to the government. That's for sure. But I don't know if we realize how well we can use it. We need to work on that.

You said a bit about this just now, but how else do the NGOs and governments each make use of the TAED?

I think you've got to realize that at the moment the TAED's still starting up and the way it's used on the NGO level is to get to know the other NGOs that are working on the same subjects so you're building up alliances which is very very important.

And then the way that we use it is that it provides us with platforms for higher consultations and very often if you're an NGOs working at the levels, the best you can get is a meeting with a director and through the TAED what's very interesting is that you can get meetings with Lamy and Barshevsky or with the Commission for environment and director generals so you get to skip right to the highest level and your message goes right there and of course because they're so up at these high levels, they're much more politically motivated and so it's easier to put pressure on them than on the people at the bottom who don't have much say.

I think in a way, the government's prime objective is to say that they're working with the NGOs and that would be my feeling. I think they're starting to realize that they can get information out of the NGOs and it's interesting for them to use it. For the Commission on trade, they actually absorbed quite a lot of our, I wouldn't say in the most positive way, have absorbed information coming from us.

In a way, too, everybody is frustrated, I mean the NGOs are frustrated because it's still teething. I mean, we also realize that that's where our frustrations come from and that it needs to be cared for in order to get it going. I don't know. I find it very difficult to judge actually. I thought the American NGOs had a problem with trust which isn't wasn't necessarily our problem. Ours is with information. I really don't know about the American government. For one thing, it's impossible for me to judge the American government. In Seattle, we would go to meetings with the USTR and the European NGOs would say "Hey, that's good, that's good!" and the US NGOs would respond, "Well, actually they just said the opposite." It's language, we wouldn't understand them. And it happened the same with the Commission, we'd go in and the US would go "Gosh, the EU's got such a good position" and the EU NGOs would go, "Well actually they're crap." We seem to understand our governments differently. That's what the TAED can help out with - creating a platform where European and US NGOs can come together and maybe even meet new NGOs that we're not always aware exist. And that's certainly positive.

I think it needs...I think that the long term objective is a bit that these plenary meetings should be so xxx on talking with government officials but a lot of the preparation meeting is needed to help them in between so that you have dialogue between NGOs - US and EU - to prepare for these big meetings so that you can actually give the government a topic, if we're talking about forests, you would really want to bring the experts together on forest and trade and have a nice working group meeting where you can really sit down and stash out all the big, you know, issues and develop a strategy, but you'd also want to that if the working group is let's say working on carbon states, you'd want to bring the NGOs together to be able to stash out all the issues there so you really can come up, you can see first if there are any differences between the NGOs on this subject, try to bridge the differences if there are, at least try to develop a common position on where there is agreement and based on that you would come to these plenary meetings to discuss directly then, you'd have much longer discussions with either the technical people from the government and then go on to having discussions with the higher grade officials. I think that's how it needs to develop, in a way.

Are there also differences between the agendas of the American and the European NGOs?

No, we have not seen any. And that's what's interesting. When we can come together and agree on things, we're doubling up our pressure on the government.

How do the NGOs consider their relationship with the government?

I'd say it was in a way, from the NGOs perspective, it's a campaigning tool. I think that government, because of public pressure, need to be approved of by the NGO committee otherwise they never would have been the main motivator to start up the TAED even if they are trying to use it to say we are having dialogues, we are good...I think that they do realize that there are problems, I think this became more apparent after the Seattle fiasco as well, that they need to open up and become somewhat more democratic than they are.

NGOs, at least as I can judge the NGOs I work with in the US and EU, they're not, they don't see themselves as possible sources of information for the Commission. They see themselves as a pressure group to insure that the, well for us in the EU, that the Commission actually includes in policies and I can see that that's the way it's working with the US NGOs as well with the lobbying they've been doing on trade and forests and that's the area I work in so I that's why I can see what they're doing. And they're not just giving information to their government - they're saying, you know, you can't go around doing this. So that's it. It's much more containing.

How do the governments then evaluate the demands and pressures coming from the NGOs in the TAED?

I have no idea.

What can you tell me then about how the government treats the demands and pressures?

When you're talking about policy for environment, I don't think you can actually say that that has something to do with the TAED. We can't... I don't think that I can actually say that any little word that I've changed in any policy document has gotten you know, one tree more protected or one poor indigenous person an improvement in his life style. That's the problem, you're working at policy level, you're not working with the projects or country level in a way...and it's always going to happen when you're going to be talking with these people. I've only been to one TAED meeting and they sort of, you make your points, and then generally you get one rather worried official saying "but you can't say this! We won't do it!" So a lot of it happens afterwards informally in a way. I still think the TAED is at a very early stage and it's very very difficult to judge, but I would say that one of the things that's quite interesting is that the US government, when it sends representatives over to the EU for a meeting with a EU government or the Commission, they contact the TAED to make meetings with European NGOs. It tries from time to time to have meetings with European NGOs to find out what's happening here and then the NGOs, knowing what's going on, well the European ones will contact the US NGOs to double up the information that's being given and received. These are private meetings - just EU NGOs and US government.I've never been to one, but it's what I've understood.

Do you know if the European government does the same thing when they go over to America?

No, this is something that we were discussing - one of the things that the TAED should actually be doing is pressurizing the Commission to actually get in touch with US NGOs to open up the dialogue on that side.That's one of the very interesting tools that the TAED provides us with. This an opportunity to have meetings with US government and to say what we think and in a way to relay the positions of the US NGOs as well to sort of show that there is agreement between NGOs on both sides of the Atlantic.

I think that the fact that they're getting high-ranking people to come to the dialogue is good. I think that the fact that the US government goes to the TAED to make meetings with European NGOs is another one. I think we've still got a lot of work to do to get it going. I mean, I think that we'll have a clearer review of what's happening in the next couple of months, after the next meeting that's going to show what's going on and how the TAED is actually working out. I think it probably needs to be more based on the working groups and they need to work on their identity and the way. I'd say that we, the climate change working groups, probably need to find our identity.

Talking about the recommendations, the statements from NGOs, how do they try to make their demands legitimate to the government - how do they try to make them appeal to the governments?

I would say that our way of dealing with it is in a way more to try influence governments not just to take on the...to point out the needs of the people, the environment...for us, for FERN, and I don't know if actually the same in other NGOs, we tend to work with a lot of Southern NGOs, we're tending to represent their points also at the Commission level in pushing forward their problems with policy and environment. The NGOs we work with in Europe, and that just happens to be the ones we work with, are more concentrated in the South, but that's just networks -that's not necessarily the representative of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth that do work, but again, they have a network, a whole huge network that's also Southern so there is communication between these NGOs. The US is such a big country that the networks... I get the feeling the networks are all based in the US with links to probably Canada to a certain extent...Latin America...But it's very, it's very difficult for me to judge from here. It's only really reflects the people I know and the people I work with. I think it would be great if the dialogue would open up, but I sort of worry that at the moment we're still at such a early stage that nobody really wants to overload it. I think the idea of maybe having an observer or something from a network in the South is a good idea. But if you suddenly have Southern NGOs when in a way our dialogue hasn't quite matured, there's going to be a problem that we're all going to be speaking differently, I mean we all speak English and we all speak it differently in the EU and we've got to get used to each other first - then only can we bring in more Southern NGOs, I think. I think it should be a long term, you know, objective. But first maybe stabilize what we've got and get it functioning properly and then bring other people into it. The problem is that the US and the UE both have such huge influences on what happens in the South that in a way, you want to be able to help the Southern NGOs to have their voice heard because their understanding, their perspective might be slightly different from ours, their understanding will be much probably more different as well and it would be good to get their voices heard straight to the US and EU government...our role is in a way to help Southern NGOs here in Brussels get their voices heard at the Commission level and you know, to provide them with support. So this is something I'm quite concerned with, but I still think that the TAED is really, I mean it's only had 2 meetings - it's in it's 3rd meeting now and quite frankly it's just so early. These things take much longer time, they need to be given the time to develop properly.

Do you think one of the governments is more committed to working with the TAED?

I don't know because on one hand you have the US who's actually making appointments with the TAED but on the other hand it's the European Commission, at least to my understanding, it's the European Commission and the US government who initiated the TAED process. And the Commission certainly is still funding it so they both in their own distinctive ways provide support and the fact that they both make themselves available when there are meetings show that there is some commitment. I think it's sometimes difficult to judge exactly what they're doing though. ... I think it's very...I think on the EU side it's very difficult to judge because you've got 15 member states and you've 15 different ways of doing things. And then of course you have the 16th way, which is the NGOs that deal with the Commission that is, again, a different way of doing things. From what I can see, US NGOs are much more aggressive campaigners than EU NGOs, but then I'm comparing what's happening at the Commission level because we work at the Commission level and we're working with an administration so our approach is somewhat different to the approach of NGOs working directly with government.

The impression I get is that the EU is in a way more transparent but maybe that's not because it wants to be more transparent but in a way because it has 15 member states and which, you know, there's always the potential that someone somewhere is going to pass the information on to NGOs because they happen to be working with them. They've got a much sort of broader scope and it's much much tighter with the US government but just because you're dealing with one government and not 15. When it comes to transparency, it's very difficult to judge in that.

What common goals exist between the NGOs and government officials that are involved in the TAED?

Common goals? Between the NGOs and governments? I don't necessarily think that the governments and the NGOs have common goals. Well, I mean, you're discussing your issues and they are environment. So I think it is...I think what the government ...I would wonder if they're not using it to say, "you see, we do have government dialogue with environmental groups - aren't we good?" I think the idea is a way of being able to put more pressure on the government - to do it jointly- and also to play the two governments against one another - to say to the US, "oh look the EU's doing much better than you are on the precautionary principle or something like that..." and say, "well now what are you doing?" It's being able to play them off in a way.


Entretien F : European Environmental Bureau

EU policy assistant on chemicals policy, product policy, eco-labeling and electronics

Bruxelles, 27 mars 2000

How do you think that NGOs and government each form a part of this dialogue?

Within the dialogue... From what I've seen, because I'm more focused on the basis where I'm working on, so I haven't seen the general, I don't know all the general discussion within the TAED...secretariats and governments... But I have seen that we've given them and then, OK governments have been responding. If I remember well, after we addressed...the Commission responded to the message we sent to the Summit last year. So there is another forum for dialogue at sort of a different level addressing both sides because sometimes I may be confusing the...without realizing because we are doing this at the EU level in the EEB anyway and we are following EU policies. So I'm doing lobbying on the same issues as EEB to the EU so that's why, I don't know if you know about this already, I don't know...EEB, what we do here is we follow the legislation that comes out of the European Commission and we lobby respectively on the issues that we're working on. So since I'm working on Chemicals Policy and the electronics which are the main issues that are common with the TAED thing, I'm doing the same thing at the European level in general so we have the position paper as EEB on the electronics directive which has been sent to the Commission and to all who will lobby and the same thing, we have positions and we do work on the chemicals policy because the chemicals, it's a bit, a bigger section, you'd say. We are now going through the revision of the chemicals regulation, legislation in total. But the base is more common to the TAED is the POPs because the US had the different position from the other countries, US and Europe. So this issue, I think, is more interesting for the TAED. So that's why I'm telling you that it isn't like you lobby both. So, through the TAED, you have access or you can, yea, you can use it as a forum to address the US. For me personally, because I already had the network with the US because I've been working with US NGOs before through another network that we had here. There's another federation, it's based in Amsterdam and they have members, member organizations from Europe and the US and through this network I had already been in contact with the US - it's ANTWERP, Peter, I don't know.

We have another network there, so I've already been doing work with the US and then when the TAED started, I sort of brought this into the group. Or we are trying to...for me it's sort of the same thing, basically.

I mean, it's some things may just...there have been conflicts between these two sides in mixed informations. So I guess this brings everybody under the same umbrella and then people also get to know what's happening on the other side because some of the issues, going one way or another, affect both sides in the issue of chemicals for example. Chemical industries are on both sides of the Atlantic, the same company but different branches. So the chemicals they are producing are the same. It's not a different chemical in Europe. So it's like a...it's a more global, it's a market, let's say Europe and US are the big powers, there is a discussion under this dialogue as well. It's from the NGOs side, what I was telling you, it's a network basically. And to see that on both sides, the NGOs, which is civil society basically, public organized organizations, are supporting one or the other initiative.

OK, the US is the biggest, let's say by far. But then, Canada, they're not officially participating in the discussions, but...I don't know. This could be an agreement of the TAED as such. But, yea, Canada could be quite interesting, maybe...but actually it's the US that is let's say the theory. We don't use here the Canadian, I don't know the government, saying we don't want that, we don't want the other. So, as the two big forces here...It's because, as EEB or as on my scale individually, I have contacts with Canada, with Mexico, with whoever you want, with Australia, with Japan...But many of the contacts are sort of, the US contacts they have both a connection with me and the TAED at the same time. But it can be the other way around. There may be people from the TAED that I get anyway. So it's like really both ways.

How then do the governments and NGOs each makes use of the TAED?

From what I've seen from the meetings basically, I think the TAED is good first of all for the NGOs themselves as well as the network on both sides and then to address the problems to the two governments - the US and the EU, let's call it as to governments, because in your case it's one under the Commission, but it's fifteen. But the TAED is important because this way of meeting with officials and giving them this message, so it has this, the positive side of this. I don't know if I'm answered your question, but this is what they see as their functions, as the real benefit of the TAED....it can go by in a case to case, but there are some where for examples, it's like the trade issue which comes in, comes from individual process, like it could be the chemicals again or the electronics for example because the electronics...the general, OK this is the trade, basically the US interference in the EU politics, if you take it completely horizontally. But these two can come to the same mind, to the same denominator basically. Because, the trade issue and the interference, what has been happening is that as soon as EU makes an emission before they are about to provoke something which may interfere with trade, US jumps in. And that's what happens with the phthalates, chemicals used in toys, because whatever happens, if the US is exporting goods to Europe, these products to be coming into the European market will now comply to the European legislation. So if the European legislation says that this chemical is banned, they have to comply, which means that they have to change their technology as well, so they say that it's a barrier to trade basically because the European companies will comply and then you go even further, if you want that proposals for directives may violate the WTO and DDT agreements and this has been the case with electronics basically. They are accusing the Commission that if they go through with this proposal, because it's in a proposal stage, it hasn't gone out, it will create problems - it will violate WTO rules. So if it goes through, maybe the US government may decide to take the EU in a WTO panel which means legal procedure afterwards, so this is the...but in, if I try to step out of my position, it could be useful for the other, there are five working groups so this doesn't mean that everybody has relations with the US. It just happened that in my case on this issue of electronics, I already had the network, so I've already been doing transatlantic dialogue with myself, basically. On this issue, it's as if I've been doing it, so it's the same thing. So you just wouldn't call it...we've been calling it transatlantic something else - transatlantic network or I don't know, a consumers responsibility.

So there's not really much of a difference between this and the TAED?

In this specific working group - just now all the work has an official name. So we can go and address the...for briefings and it's much easier to see the representatives of the governments. So you have like a...if someone goes like up and says, I'm a person, a common person and I don't have any authority or something, so this...the TAED can give some kind of authority to say with the NGOs. Because EEB has an authority because we are representing many organizations so the EEB has a similar function in bringing the two sides together, but then the role of the governments, I guess, it's to acknowledge what we do and for the opinions to be heard because if we have been saying for example about this interference or about the precautionary principle, how this is being perceived by the two sides. And all of these issues, they can incorporate them in their legislation or they can ignore them. But they're not, I mean that's usually the discussion, that's in every problem, basically.

So basically NGOs are getting increased authority and what is the government getting from this dialogue?

They're getting the input, I guess.

But if that existed already through different -

No, you cannot say, you cannot say that this existed through my example, because the work that we've been doing is basically lobbying of NGOs, so I mean that for example, I had the campaign where I was asking the NGOs to send a letter - it's the letter also that Meredyth sent...so this is like from the NGO side, but we haven't been giving any message as this network which I had with the government. It was more NGO work together in campaigning, let's say, campaigning by both sides through letters and the positions papers and stuff and through discussion. For example, if there are meetings happening in the states with the UCPA with NGOs, I know that because we are in continuous email contact, but we haven't been writing a position like all together which maybe, which this is what happens with the TAED, a statement that is being submitted in the final meetings when we have the meetings every six months. So and we have statements for each working group so these can be considered as positions of the industry working groups of the TAED. So it has a certain kind of authority...and I think a following of who it represents basically. It's not one person. It's the EEB and others as well. In Europe, for the Americans, the American NGOs, OK you can give a, you can strengthen a position because it's not expressing not only the EU, but also the public society from the other side. But from the US, it's a very good message to the US government basically because there is also another issue. The US EPA has a functioning; it has like a double role which gets confused. But usually from one side, it has the role of the agency which means that they are going to carry out research and things like that, but from the other side, it is the governmental, let's say body, of the environment. In European situation, the agencies are different probably from the government which is, in the specific case, the DG Environment in the Commission. So the agency, for example the European environmental agency, they are not doing politics. They are supporting with research only, with reports, with statistics, with I don't know what, different issues, but they are not making policy. The agency no, the DG environment yes. But in the US situation, these two bodies are like one. And it's under the EPA. And what can happen is that the US EPA can from one side carry out the research which proves for example that if you use this chemical it will be very bad, and from the other side they cannot really propose a legislation or something. And then apart from this confusion, everything has to go through Congress and all the American system, but it's the Congress who can propose, I think, a legislation or a piece of legislation. So there it's a complete...But there is this thing that people from the EPA tell me. And I was saying Oh my God, because I'm trying to understand how this thing works. And then if you take the US EPA, on a specific issue of electronics for example, the electronics directive, the US EPA has been supporting the EU initially, but when the US government, as government as a whole, when they are developing their position, the opinion of the EPA gets diluted as it goes further up the hierarchy and what ends up here in Brussels is... lobbying for industry and against the environment basically. The EPA, it just seems that they don't have a very, they don't have a real power in putting through their position. But as far as some thing's being addressed by Gore for example, it's like mandate from God and everybody starts working on it. And the same thing happened with the phthalates. At the beginning there was a big fight and then Gore said yes, we should do something and then there, stop and...we have bans now and restrictions have been increased.

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

I don't know. This would be good if it happened, if one government would feel competition to have a better environmental policy. I don't know...there are other issues...economy and other interests behind this decision. That's why you have problems. It's not clear that everybody's working for the good of the environment. It's not as simple as that....Nobody is going to do something to satisfy the NGO demands. There will be something more. It's something more behind it - it is not to satisfy the NGOs as such, it's because there's a problem with the environment for example. So we are just, but the same thing is, the lobbies are all in their own interests. I mean, the regional government also has their own interests because for example they have the courage and they want to say so behind everything we have political and economic factor...whether you like it or not, it will be because it's available.

If we take the positive side of issues, is that we can see which things on the environmental agenda the US has been doing better than the EU and vice-versa. So for example in the liability issue, the US has system which is quite bureaucratic let's say, but because it has been there, that's my personal view, because if you ask American NGOs, they will say that it's not really very effective, but I think that it has been there for many years which means that the companies, it concerns liability, so if you pollute - you pay or you are something...so the companies have that fear or that threat in the back of their heads somewhere that if they pollute, they will be punished, so this has led to maybe changing their technologies or taking care of different things. A similar structure in environment liability doesn't exist in Europe. We are now trying to put it into work, now there has been a paper proposed. So if you have access, you can really find out how the system works and the other way around because the same case as with the liability is for the US what the EU says should be for electronics - if the EU manages to propose this legislation for electronics, it's a good example for the US. So the NGOs will say that Europe has taken a very good initiative and that we have to do this as well. And it goes both ways.

Are there different ways of working, different action plans between American and European NGOs?

Each NGO, they have their own program. So for example the American NGOs with whom I'm working, they do focus on this issue of electronics and waste - that's their main theme. Here at EEB, we're doing thousands of issues. So, but, some of the actions are sort of coordinated or the coordination could be the letter campaign which I have launched and the Americans have launched, but this we started together.... Sometimes it may be easier for the Americans to access American web site and say, it seems closer, the access to them. We're crossing the things from one side to the other - we have a very big network. So we have also network officials - not only American, but I have NGOs from Japan and because we have all this network so I've been using all the comments I have basically for my campaign together with the Americans. But, then again, the regional NGOs, they may have a campaign for example which they did, one of the NGOs, they did a dumping campaign. They took like I don't know how many thousands of computers and they just went and threw it in front of I don't know where. They did that in November. But as EEB, we are not doing that, because this is not our function. As EEB, we follow the...basically we don't do actions like that.

But we don't have a difference of opinion. The messages are the same - only the issues I am working with, OK, this is clear. Because I don't know if it is the same for the other working groups. In my cases, I cannot say that there are differences - not on chemicals, not on electronics, not on...because there have been other issues addressed - also there is IZON, the national standardization organization. This kind of issues and also at the mutual recognition agreements, the MRAs, and then the last meeting the precautionary principle was addressed which comes from all groups, but we have sort of taken the lead in developing something, the industry group let's say. There will be something like a study, which I think we will do...

The working groups are independent of each other because the issues are different. The other groups, what they are doing, I don't know. Forestry, biodiversity - I have nothing to do with forestry. I have no idea. Wer're not... The EEB is not even doing forestry. It's more WWF who is doing forestry. So it may depend on the issue and the issue of course has been decided on...according to the issues that we think are common to both sides because there are many environmental issues that we address here in Europe, but there hasn't been a conflict or there hasn't been something common to be addressed for TAED discussion for example. There are just different policies or something that...for example, climate. Climate is both sides. Then this electronics thing - the NGOs for example, the American NGOs, they think that this is a very good issue that Europe is taking and they want to pressure the US government to take a similar initiative. And then, but there are other issues that we haven't really addressed. With water, for example, because water is a

concern but the waters in the US, they have nothing to do with the waters of the EU. If you start addressing the rivers that flow here to there...it's not shared. So it is not a very common area for discussion. So, each group, I guess they have decided to work on issues that are common.

How do NGOs consider their relationship with the government in the TAED?

It is good to have the access. For the European NGOs, it is useful to have access to the US government, useful if you want to get stuff. You can say that we've been coming, maybe sometimes it may be easier to get the access or have defined what's happening in the US which may end up here in the presentation of the US - the US mission here and we end up there...so this, yea, it could be useful.

Do you think that one of the governments is more committed to the dialogue than the other?

I cannot tell...from a general feeling. But because in the meetings from what I've seen, there has been input from both sides. Both sides gave an answer to each statement that was made. The last meeting, it's usually officials and they know on which issues we have been working so what happens is that a question from the NGOs addresses the statement of the working group, usually the reporter, or whatever you want to call it, of the working group, says the statement and then both sides sort of reply to what has been...right there on the spot. But they've known the issues in advance, so they have brought the right people, so when we are addressing the electronics team, there was a guy from the xxx of the EPA. The people from the EPA for example who I met, some were really really telling me, just tell your people, tell the American NGOs to contact me, to call me and to send me a position because the US EPA has a problem themselves to make themselves believed in the hierarchy, so if they have support, sometimes this can even help the position of the US EPA. So, apart from that, I mean have examples just like last month - they have been meetings with the NGOs every Friday for the past month. So they are in dialogue. They are in...they do...OK, this meetings wasn't so xxx, electronics and trade basically, electronics was used as an example for the trade discussion and the interference of the US in EU affairs.

But I'm telling you again on the issues, which I remember of course much better because I had all the discussion, I'm more focused on what we've been doing. They gave an answer because we sort of accused them of the US is xxx and they're blocking the directive and all this story about the xxx. And the guys from the EPA, they say we are supporting the, basically the initiative which but this is the opinion of the US EPA, but as this goes further up, what I get in Brussels, again, it's lobbying against. So there has been replies to different issues. In some cases they may ask, yes also. But their opinion, they listen to our opinion when you present the opinion of the working group, so first we give our position, with the questions and we ask them to reply. And there is, so they reply to the official statement and then there is like a discussion, that depends on the time. So government can just raise their hands and say what do you think about that, basically.

In terms of the recommendations that the NGOs give within the TAED, how do the governments evaluate them?

They responded to the message we gave. How they do that - I don't know. I mean, they probably, I can imagine that they have addressed the individual people working on the specific...and the opinion comes to the...but when we submitted the statement ...there was one later on, so I don't know how they develop their positions and respond because these, could be quite a long document - not extremely long, but if you consider that there are five given statements from the five different groups so there are many individual issues addressed and then I guess each government, they have to go down to their desk officers and see what they are doing on this because one person cannot know of course the specific things that...so I can imagine that, but this I cannot know for sure, how they evaluate.

After evaluation, how are the recommendations treated?

The fact that everybody was pushing on different issues, this can have an effect. And of course, this can be addressed at different levels - general, through member states, or other...but yea, I think there is definitely an input from TAED NGOs, not only in the TAED maybe you may see on certain issues that are increasing...they are like coordinated efforts, many other things... but this is not only in the TAED, it's also, it's in all NGOs at all levels. But I don't think that I am the right person to tell you because I am down there. This will be addressed to the TAED as a whole. This will not be addressed to me. I'm just a member of the working group, let's say, because I'm working on specific issues but then the results...Francisco will probably be able to tell you about this. Because I don't know, I hear a lot about what's of interest because we are sitting together with Francisco basically. But that is by coincidence. So the government, when they are arranging meetings -because there are meetings happening through the TAED. John has been meeting Frank Loyd the other day when he was over here, so there is a platform which is being formed and which can be used for further lobbying, then you get to know the people and you can talk to them individually and it's something like that. But this, I think is with Francisco and John that know the general evaluation or response.

Do you think that there are common goals between the NGOs and governments in this dialogue?

I guess the common goal is to find a solution to conflicting issues with respect to the environment. Otherwise, if one of the two sides were not committed to that, we wouldn't have a dialogue basically. Because this is government funded anyway - the whole exercise. And there it has been let's say supported by the Commissioners when it started and all this.

But, as the TAED, we have to develop the network more. For example, we have to find more NGOs working on the specific issues. The second meeting was better than the first one, for my working group. However, the work was sometimes like a constance ...for example when we were in Washington at the last meeting, we had arranged to have meetings with the desk officers of the governement, but at the working group level which is more informal - you can have a better let's say job face to face with an official. The thing that was arranged though was that all the experts from my working group had to go to the formal negotiations with the US because they arranged the meetings the same days that the EU-US negotiations, so the officials are here anyway. So it just happened that on that morning, the industry related people had to go an official meeting so nobody came to our working group. So this was our bad point, because in the other working groups there were three or four, there were the desk officers from the US or the EU.

We need to extend the network more. This is basically, I mean, find the people who are working on these specific issues. And in a way, because I had this work anyway because I was in this network with the Americans, I brought this network back in. So but when, I don't know who got, should be a member from the coordinators of the NGOs to find more NGOs who are working on these issues. Because of course if you receive 20 letters instead of 1 on something when we've been lobbying on things or whatever, this becomes a stronger position, stronger message for the governments that people have a concern on that issue and you have to take care of it or to have a look at it. It doesn't mean that things will happen from one day to the other.


Entretien G : World Wildlife Foundation - European Policy Office

Trade & Investment Policy Coordinator

Bruxelles, 28 mars 2000

How do NGOs and governments each form a part of the TAED?

Well this dialogue is exclusively for NGOs. The European NGOs and the US NGOs are both representative on the steering committee, for each working group there is a EU co-chair, there is a US co-chair, so I think it is a dialogue. Whatever you define it, what is taking place, it is a dialogue.

The governments have their own channels, let's say. And basically they have a formal challenge talking to each other in the Summit and they've got more informal chances than [otherwise would be the case], and they have a number of arrangements like the Transatlantic Economic Partnership and when it comes to issues like the environment, they have high-level meetings on environment and on other bilateral issues. So that's one level of communication with the governments. The dialogue is not about communication between governments - it's about communication between NGOs from both sides and one part of this dialogue focuses of course, means involving some of the governments, briefing them on the outcome of these discussions and sometimes they have been invited to parts of the dialogue. But it's two different levels that we're talking about.

So how do each of them, the governments and the NGOs, each make use of the TAED?

Well I think the value of this dialogue cannot, I think it's two-fold : one is to increase the understanding among NGOs from both sides of the Atlantic in a very open - we're working in very different ways. But most important, and this is a shared objectives of European and US NGOs is basically who runs the political process of the official dialogue between the Americans and the Europeans so it's basically to have an impact on the policies that the new xxx, they adopt on the xxx. So I could say that that's probably the driving force for the NGOs to participate in this dialogue. Views can be speaked.. I mean it's not a formal structure. I mean it's basically very, it usually takes place through an invitation by the xxx to participate. So it's not a formal structure or anything. But it is a dialogue. I mean there is an exchange of views and reactions to this exchange of views. In some ways it is a dialogue, but as far as it being a sort of formal structure or partnership, I don't think so.

The NGOs are the driving force. They are the participants. They basically use the dialogue as an opportunity to exchange ideas, views, to share information, to follow up official processes like the TEP and is basically some way to build, not consensus but to build some common ideas and make common assessments of useful matter, processes. So that's for the NGOs. How do the governments use the dialogue, well...I think for the governments, the people-to-people dialogues are useful in that it basically allows them to say that they're, you know, that this is not just a government-to government relation, it's also a business-to-business relation, a civil society-to-civil society relation and I think basically in this situation, I mean, you know how heated the trade debates are in the last few years. I think this gives them some sort of legitimacy, if you want to make these trade processes more acceptable to people. The nature of the dialogue is of people, I mean civil society-to-civil society dialogue. So I mean the nature of the government participator in this dialogue is getting to people but [this is] not [the nature] of the NGOs.

Do the European and American environmental NGOs have different agendas and points?

The dialogue is still a very young process but basically it got its life not even a year ago in May of last year so it's still very much in the process of being consolidated and of course there are different points of view between the NGOs, but I wouldn't say the main difference is between US and European NGOs. I mean even there have been NGOs in Europe or in the US that have different points of view about what this process should achieve or how we should combat it. So there have been different points of view. I wouldn't say, as I said, I wouldn't say that the most recent one has been between Americans and Europeans. So that will form a process. And on substance, I think, basically, when these dialogues take place, it doesn't matter whether you're European or American. I mean, everyone has an opportunity to share their views with everyone and there is quite an open way of discussing these issues.

So within this dialogue, how do NGOs consider their relationship with government?

That relationship hasn't been defined. I think depending on who you ask you'll probably get a different answer and I think it very much depends on the nature of the NGO. NGOs who find themselves xxx with government and give them weight. And if you ask Friends of the Earth or if you ask Greeenpeace or if you ask Oxfam, you will get different answers. So I think for only, the WWF itself, more as a pressure group and trying to exert pressure on the concomitant dialogue between the European and American governments.

Presenting their outcome to the governments, that's the most formal part because the rest of the dialogue meeting takes place in working groups so obviously it is the more plenary discussion involving the different actors. I mean, it's more like a partnership context.

Do you think generally that there is one of the two governments that is more committed to working with civil society, with NGOs?

Well I think the European Union is probably more open to civil society which doesn't mean that they care more about what civil society says. They've been more open in the run-up to Seattle because they've had a lot of offensive interests and they knew they had to take into consideration civil society so they consulted NGOs on a number of occasions in 98 and 99 as well. The US government, I cannot judge from this side of Atlantic, but I think it has been more reluctant to open up towards NGOs and other groups in civil society.

In terms of the treatment of the NGO recommendations, what can you tell me about how the European Commission evaluates and treats the recommendations?

Well I'm not aware of any written response to the recommendations we have made. On a number of occasions and especially at the end of the dialogue meetings, that was the case in May and in Washington last October, I didn't attend. But normally the conclusions, the recommendations from the dialogue meeting are presented and they are presented to the policy makers so that includes people from the US and officials from the EU and they normally react to these recommendations - either to support them or to criticize them or to voice their own views and frustrations. And I think, most generally, that response comes in an oral form. There have been requests for written responses to the recommendations by NGOs, but as far as I know, there hasn't been really it seems a follow-up on the EU side in trying to provide written responses.

If you understand success in trying to change policies, I go so far as having met you - policy, but if you said to me basically knowing each other better and exchanging views and information, then I think to some extent we can say that it was successful.


Entretien H : European Environmental Bureau

Coordinateur des ONG Européennes du TAED

Bruxelles, 27 mars 2000

How do NGOs and governments form a part of the TAED?

The key word is dialogue, right? So you have the US government, the EU government, the EU NGOs and the US NGOs. The dialogue usually mean that these people speak to these people, but in fact what you have here is twice annual summits between the governments...This has been going on since the beginning of time but the new transatlantic agenda institutionalized this relationship. This type of relationship (NGOs to NGOs) has been going on for a long time particularly in certain sectors like forests, trade, genetic resources...but this system has allowed us to institutionalize it a little bit and it also provides us with funds so that we can meet at least at two points a year....Combining the ongoing transatlantic NGO network with this, putting some added value...This relationship, between NGOs and government, is again, something that's been going on for a long time but the invention of the transatlantic dialogue has enabled us to have an unprecedented opportunity to meet with officials. It used to be that if you wanted to see individuals on a certain topic...now that happens much easier and in fact it's coming from both directions. They want to have a meeting with us about technology, climate, or...and it's not only easier and more frequent and better attended these consultations, but also at a much higher level than normal. The same thing is of course going on on the other side. So that key word again is dialogue - this dialogue (EU-US), this dialogue (NGO-NGO) and that dialogue (NGO-Government). It gets more and more complex of course because the Commission is very interested in having a dialogue with us in connection with US NGOs in order to counter the US on certain critical points. In the TEP, less so than the high level consultations, it's usually the US side that proposes and the EU side...

Proposes what with the TEP?

What we're going to discuss, which resolutions to have on the table. So the EU is interested because they feel like there's more like-mindedness with citizens organizations on both sides and that...Now, the US government also, whenever they have a meeting with an important person over here, they contact us directly and ask us to set up a meeting. So they're kind of lobbying us if you want, to understand our views on issues. They don't use that word of course. They're talking about dialogue. And it's not just us giving our views and not getting theirs. It's a dialogue. They ask for our views and...again, great opportunities to hear directly from people...what their latest positions are and for them to listen to what we have to say. The EU, when its officials are in Washington, they're not yet in the habit of setting up meetings directly with our partners there although we are going to encourage that to take place. So the different lines have different...but in each case it's supposed to be a dialogue. If you wanted to ask if any of these have a measurable influence on the government, I'd say not.

The NGOs, however, can become rather frustrated. In June of 1999 at the Summit in Bonn, we sent the message to the Summit. By September, the European Commission's services was able to give us in writing the formal response which is in fact an inventory of their current positions on the same topics. They weren't really responding to what we were saying but they were saying, "Now this is what you're saying and this is what we're doing." It wasn't the political positions because it was declared by the technical people in different services, "Oh, you're interested in the question of foreign direct investment. We've made a position on that. Well our position is..." According to the Commission on a political level, if you compare our concerns and where they're at, there hasn't been much difference. According to some of our experts, we've approached several points where there's quite a difference between what we're suggesting the policies should be and what they're describing as the existing policy. But the important thing is that they weren't really responding to that saying, yes we will do that or no we won't because we can't. They were stating their positions...we went through the entire document point by point, several people- there they revealed off the record more information of why they agree with us, why they can't get the Americans to go that far. That's a common excuse - 'We can't get the other one to do it,' and that's why we like this dialogue because we can catch them and then point out.

Now, the Americans of course did not respond in writing. They had some meetings with our US colleagues and in our second major meeting in Washington, they clearly stated that they don't believe in putting things in writing. We strongly, we don't accept that. We feel that they have to...even if their answers are incomplete, our problem, the NGO problem, is that it's very nice to sit down with officials and discuss it, but we have a constituency to inform. So we have to take minutes of everything they say. They don't mind if we do that and report back what the US position is on A, B and C, but it's a lot of work for us. In all fairness to them, the Commission took six months to write all of this down....I think what's more important is how you define a dialogue. The easiest way to answer that is to say that it's a process. It's not something that suddenly appeared. A lot of these things hadn't been done before. It's an evolving process on everybody's part. Even within our own NGO world, it's an evolving process. There was a great deal of skepticism in the beginning that this was only being set up to legitimize trade liberalization in Brussels and then from the government we find out that that may or may not be true but in any case, it's much more...An important turning point came in December of last year when the two governments agreed on and issued the principles for cooperation. For example on this question of whether or not there should be a written answer to our points, I don't believe they addressed that correctly, but they were very clear about the fact that on the points that are being negotiated within the context of the agenda, they have to be transparent, they have to provide us with information in a timely way, so that if they want our advice on what they're talking about, we need to know what they're working on. So if you haven't seen that, that was issued with the Summit in December. It's particularly important because it begins to define what constitutes a true dialogue and what responsibilities there are for the partnership in order for it to work - there's also an interesting segment about interaction and the difficulties. We certainly set down in fact in late 1998 conditions upon which we would work. For example... and other different points and those we have continued reiterating whenever we've met... So there were indeed starting points from the different actors....before we, among ourselves...with several NGOs before we landed into the official part, certainly before we went to the practical agreement...but again, it's an evolving process. And we have a condition we've added to the principles that... it's now our turn to say, well, that's all very nice but we'd like you to give us xxx that you are listening to us.

Right. Are the principles related to the environment at all or is it just -

To all the dialogues

Just the dialogues, not the -

They're like conspiracy, equality, things like that.

How does each actor make use of this dialogue? How is it useful?

From our perspective, from European environmental organizations, we want to achieve certain things so how can this system help us achieve what we want to achieve? We know that certain European environmental - domestic environmental relations are affected by domestic environmental policy in the United States and by transatlantic investors (?) - in the US government...and by their agreement or disagreement with the global campaign. Domestic, transatlantic and global things beyond the European Union have an impact on the environment, policy on environment situation in Europe which European NGOs and environmental NGOs...and secondaries (?) are very noticeable in fact... Some people try to delay...we want them to be in place. So it's very good to hear today that some Americans US NGOs are interested in working....with us, the theory being that we will be able to put some pressure in the United States to get the US government off the back of the EU so that...you could look at many different bases. That, if you look from the perspective of what the European environment NGOs want to achieve, this system is important in the first place when one looks at the degree to which, for example, the US government has influence over the EU or in some other way on the environment in Europe. For example, if US business is going to introduce genetically modified organisms into food in Europe, that will effect the environment. And we need to be talking with our US colleagues and this idea that Europeans can speak with US government directly on several regular occasions is very interesting. Whether or not, what impact it will have, ...Obviously I prefaced what I said by saying, Let's look at the objectives [of the EU NGOs]... you can also do the same by looking at their objectives [US NGOs] or theirs [US government] or theirs [EU government]. Perhaps the best answer since your paper is about the transatlantic environment dialogue is to look at the joint eight objectives for the EU and the US NGOs which prepared for themselves what they want to achieve. And these objectives are objectives - they're not general aims. They're things which one can see how, see that they can be operated upon, they're not 'we want a better world.' This is 'we want increased cooperation on specific issues between [the government and] ourselves.' And it's by, against those objectives, that we measure ourselves on the value of this...

Do the European and American NGOs already come into the dialogue with different agendas?

Ask Meredyth that question or the people who've actually been in the working groups. I haven't been dealing with the substance but what I can tell you is that in the trade area, there was, as we approached the other in the WTO millennium round, there were quite different positions among Europe and American NGOs. On the European side, I may oversimplify it, ask Meredyth about it, I think Friends of the Earth Europe was very much against this kind of meeting and I think WWF's position was that this is going to happen anyhow, let's try to make sure that it doesn't damage environmental agreements or let's make sure that they don't put things in there that...So then when it came to our position, within the TAED, I don't think we see a, so much of a compromise, but of a longer list where everybody could put there thing under it. I believe in one area there was a difference between those two questions, concerns and I believe there was some business on how that paragraph would be xxx and there was a kind of compromise. It's as simple as that. I don't think it's so much about the fact that it was very strongly....wording. But again, ask people who've been in the meetings and worked...What I think is more important is the question of what is the status of the TAED recommendations. Some would argue that the purpose of the dialogue is to maximize the possibilities for the

impact of the participating organizations to get their views across to the public xxx of the dialogue...others may be more interesting in seeing if the TAED can, has a TAED...as a consequence, in our rules, one of the rules said that the TAED shall not set up xxx positions emerged from members of the steering committee or the working groups. It will be circulated only in the main organizations specifically so that they can sign on. So that means that the three of us are in the club and I like xxx but you're interested in xxx which means that you, as in the minority, have not deemed yourself...that's the easiest.... The next step was that we found ourselves introducing when sometimes we had to issue something quick and short and xxx and it didn't take much time for it, ...so new rules...to shorten...that at least the steering committee... in more general means. And now we're looking at the words again in looking at this stuff in May...we could go a step further and have...certainly the xxx of our organization is built on...becomes a TAED. Personally I don't think it's practical and I don't think the members would accept it because TAED has to be there to provide an added value to what they're already doing and it looks great, they have all these different organizations supporting positions but the TAED could become yet another organization with the same position as WWF...

There's also the question of whether or not the scope of subjects treated is too expansive or too narrow. When we started out, we xx and noted ...there were issues people suggested should be on...though I must say this is typically Northern approach. We look at the world in terms of issues and problems that have to been resolved, whereas NGOs from other countries might be looking in terms of goals, values, participation, some kind of world view...and then you might look at forests...Western, more than others in particular, tend to look at things in terms of issues and...All this came into account and over a period of a couple of months, several people tried to figure how could we deal with approximately 30 different issues in the dialogue. So we started experimenting - Rod Leonard at the Community Nutrition International and myself both put them into clusters and...because he pointed out that in the case of what we call climate protection, clean air and energy, given the fact that there exists the Climate Network here and over there, the added value for these people in the dialogues would be that it would focus on the domestic implication of international agreements which the EU and the US were negotiating. So, this, when they came together in the TAED context, they wouldn't be sitting there discussing xxx, rather the energy liberalization within Europe or in outer space. John was very much hoping, and this may still be the case, that this group would be one that focused on consumption and prevention patterns as they have an effect on the atmosphere. Group number two, called Biodiversity, nature, conservation and forests, was to provide a logical cluster of things. Three was trade, four, agriculture and five, industry. And the problem that we were having was not only where do you put, in which basket do you put the chick-a-dees because what we did could be a trade issue or it could be an industry issue. The problem was, to what extent were these [the working groups], leave that one out at moment [?], say...the question is which of these things here are global and which ones are transatlantic? For example, trade was by... as a more, and biodiversity, as a more global fact. Whereas agriculture and industry, we would look at that more to domestic issues- how do they have an impact on...But the distinction between the scope of these things never really became very clear (. Another thing that,) except by practice because when they decided to focus on a couple of issues thinking in clusters, and it was pretty obvious where it was global or transnational or transatlantic. Another very big problem we had is in time we dropped the Commissions into the baskets, somebody tells that they have a problem with that, but finally they agreed that that was a fair way to start. And the other problem was that in each of the baskets they're dozens of issues and in some cases somewhat eclectic. Some of the things that fell into the industry area didn't seem...And the working groups were concerned that they couldn't possibly deal with all of the subjects. So we had to make it clear that the working groups could chose...but the idea was that they could begin to work on one or two subjects from that area and then in the course of time, they could focus on the subject xxx of the issues which would involve different participants perhaps....but, like in the case of the business dialogue, there was nothing to prevent them to create sub-groups, issue groups. So that for example, right now biodiversity, nature, conservation and forests is focused today almost exclusively on forest needs, not on biodiversity or other aspects...

In the agriculture working group, it emerged that a lot of people wanted to talk about food, you know, consumption...genetically modified, biotechnology. Other people wanted to talk about multifunctional agriculture, cultural aspects of environment, the role of xxx. And all of this would be linked under fisheries because it is part of the xxx. From that perspective, it's also part of Nature...fishing and seas....so there are five working groups of different size, of different xxx. Some of them involve networks, transatlantic networks...some of them are militant. And in the third meeting that we'll be having in May, we'll see yet a different snapshot of where they have evolved.

There are too links between each of these dialogues - formal and informal. First of all, in the United States, the US coordinators [of the working groups] are almost all members of the steering committee. In Europe, that is not so and quite often what we have is when we have a meeting with the steering committee, we call it the steering committee plus the working group chairpersons which we call the quode (?) group. So that the two heads of each of these groups meet...with the elected steering committee so that they can compare and contrast an decide if the Biosafety Protocol is a matter of the Biodiversity working group or the agriculture working group or both. I'm not sure why this has evolved differently between the US and European NGOs. It could be because the first meetings were here and there were more Europeans here and necessarily less Americans here and they had to find within the xxx of some Americans who were represented at the first meeting here people to do the jobs and community steering committee members at that stage agreed that they would be on the steering committee but they would also be the working group leaders. I perceive now that they are hoping on the new year in May that they will, many of them will hope not to...And we had more Europeans who...I suppose so.

Another difference between European and American NGOs is that the EEB has taken a larger role in the European coordinator job than has it's American counterpart. There is a reason for that. First of all, the EEB is the largest federation of all the major environmental organizations in Europe. On the other hand, you have Friends of the Earth Europe, WWF that has members throughout xxx - both are original... they have strong representatives in their national states plus an international development network. So it's logical that EEB would xxx and they were asked - the EEB was approached by the Commission, being the federation...with a lot of overlapping on the European level. And secondly, we have a contract with them. We have signed a contract, as NWF has done with the US government, in our case with European coordination...and every two months we send in a report, a financial report. So I'm also led to believe that the other members in Europe were perfectly happy for EEB to do that and they trusted us to do that because EEB has the administration, xxx and so on. And they wanted, somebody said - a European, that they wanted to be involved in content but not in running it. In the United States, it's the other way and the reason, there's a long history of this but the short story is that there is tradition in this type of consortium or xxx to share the responsibility among the leading actors and they decide together. But I don't know if they told you, you can't put this in your...you will find it in some of the documents. But when the US government proposed to the NWF to set up this dialogue, some NGOs, among a small number, there was a concern because NWF had been seen some years ago to have sold out on the NAFTA agreement. ...strong objections. Some of them argued that NWF had done the right thing, that it had got the guarantees that there would be environmental

processes taken care of in the NAFTA. It caused a kind of split among some of them. When this came up, some of those who'd had trouble with NWF were a little bit worried. They just didn't think... The people who were in NWF for the NAFTA agreement were no longer there. It wouldn't be saying the individuals, just the name. So when we first started out in late 1998, we were having a lot of difficulty getting the dialogue started - not because of problems between the US and Europeans NGOs - because there was a fear that NWF maybe wasn't representative of what was going on or they would agree with the government on everything, which is nonsense. But in any case, one of the thing's that's emerged, I believe, and again this is...I believe that the US steering committee decided to act more as a group so contrary to the way we do things here where Europeans are sort of 'let the EEB take care of organizing...Europe' Over there 'we're not going to do anything by one group, we want everyone to agree before we do something. So there's emerged the different nature of decision making. And if you didn't know that, it would look like one was more democratic or less democratic or one was more efficient and one was less efficient. But it's because of the history of relationships between the actors...

And if you ask this question in Washington, they know the same answer but I don't know if they'd take the time to explain it. And also there's different styles of working. At least here, at least for the EEB personally, ...there's no organization where you have - it's more like a business. You site things and...you don't have to have a committee that's like a public handle.

How do the NGOs consider their relationship with the government in the TAED?

Maybe the other people would have a better answer to that. I think that what is going on, personally, in my opinion, is consultation on substance. The Commission is asking NGOs for their view points because they have expertise...And also, this whole thing is designed as an early warning system. Both governments are hoping to pick up on business, consumers and environment clues about potential trade issues or potential trade stimulus on the horizon because they have, this system allows them to have...so they're similar questions to the one you just asked because it has to do with not only the nature of the relationship but the objective or the xxx of the actor. I think that it is a consulting process where they want to hear from us about...and what's on the horizon. But obviously from our point of view, we want - it is indeed a pressure - here's a lobbying exercise. We want to have our, not so much the TAED itself, but we want - dialogue provides an opportunity for its participant organizations to express their views, concerns about sustainability and practices...with the hope that it will influence the way the Commission acts itself and how it acts in its negotiations.

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

Maybe not one government...but they are more committed to working with the TABD, the business dialogue, than with the others. During the October meeting, we were talking about the fact that the dialogue with the governments and the businesses is a much more effective relationship than the environment NGOs can have with governments - that the dialogues in fact weren't equal. We were basically asking that all the dialogues be treated as equal, and I think one of the US officials said, "Not everyone is equal. You don't all have the same color. However, it is our responsibility to try to make use of each dialogue as much as possible." For example, who gets to bear evidence at the Summit - that should be on a rotating basis and not always the businesses. But no one could pretend that the environmental NGOs have the same powers as businesses. I think that is the part I remember. I can't imagine - these people, I mean, we're obviously not equal to the European Commission. Maybe they're talking about partners with the governments maybe.

Looking now at treatment of the NGO recommendations, how do the governments then evaluate and treat what they're given?

Well if you had asked how seriously do governments take the dialogue, I would have said, yes they take it very seriously...but it is very hard to tell the degree to which....affect policy...The governments say that they take the ideas and disperse them among everyone in a trickle down process - It could have an influence, but it's hard to measure. But I think what one has to do is can thinking you to ask that question because the participating organizations are very delighted, they want to know whether they should get involved or not and one of things that would help them answer that question would be does this increase their power. But I think you need to take a little bit more complex...if you look at the eight objectives, you don't only propose that one of the objectives is for the members to be able to put their views towards the government. It also says that the dialogue provides an opportunity for us to get timely information from the governments about things that they're planning, early warning from our perspective, that could have an impact on the environment so that we can use...and organize ourselves from the start. So if we didn't have any impact on their policy, but the dialogue nevertheless enabled us to have intelligence about what they're discussing and what's going to be coming up...that in itself would be a good information dialogue. Plus, let's suppose that you are an NGO or an individual and you want to affect that policy. I believe that the least effective way to do so is to write a recommendation and send it to them. It may be, but a much more..., I think, would be to mobilize your public opinion and the press - the constituency of the people who are concerned, whose lives are affected by the policy because they don't want genetically modified food or because they're fed up with all the cars, they want more public transport. Then you can have the impact on the policy...by putting all kinds of pressures...simply to xxx public opinion or what I think is really interesting is that the people who are supposed to have power over the European...is the European parliament and in the United States it's the Senate. If the environment NGOs in the US and in Europe...are working towards the parliamentarians, are legitimately at the neck of the representatives of the citizens who have the power to either make that policy or to shake it are impacted by working in partnership with elected representatives could be amazingly greater than it would be by sending a statement to the Commission. You know...the environmental NGOs spend a certain amount of time to dialogue...but the ones who're really effective on...are going to the meetings of the environment committee, to the parliament, getting to know...the chairman of the xxx. Parliamentarians sometimes, even if they're on the environment group, may not have a lot of expertise in many different areas. They rely heavily on their staff, their experts, their experts within their party structure...to provide them with information.

How do the NGOs make their demands legitimate to the government?

The NGOs, in their recommendations for example, seem to sound like they are trying to be authoritative with the government. If you look at NGO's literature, sometimes its style's in the form of recommendations, you know 'whereas, whereas, whereas,' 'given the situation, can something be done' and 'who should we...' The way our documents emerged were I think kind of a mixture of that. They were, I would call, expressions of concern. Some paragraphs go so far as to say, 'you should do this or that,' but it was, many paragraphs were simply describing the present situation, to say that they we find complacent or alarming or we would like more attention...if you go through particularly the May/June 99 documents, it wasn't, each of the paragraphs doesn't have an equal standing as a singular recommendation...it even appears in some cases to be...so what we did afterwards was: I went through all of the documents an tried to extract and summarize the key recommendations... things we actually could take...the background, let's say if you read the reports of the working groups and then compare that message to what we sent to the Summit, you'll see that the message we sent to the Summit is a distolat...ation and making a much more point in tying them into recommendations ...because we were, I suppose, we were just beginning at that time to think about what it is that we wanted to work on. So the very first documents are very, are not precise...but we distilled from that the recommendations and that we call the message to the Summit - that's the shorter, more points, whereas the working group paper, the reports whatever you call it, same content, it's just that the verbs are a little more in the active tense.


Entretien I : United States Environmental Protection Agency

Trade & Environment Policy Coordinator

(ancien représentant de NWF, l'ONG fondatrice du TAED)

Washington DC, 21 décembre 1999

How do the governments form a part of the TAED?

I can't say why the government came to the NGOs, Americans, I can guess. We had a healthy transatlantic business dialogue and it was so healthy that my sense is that the other components that are parts of the New Transatlantic Agenda were being represented in the dialogue involving citizens, that's in the two governments, so in part it was in response to that. My sense is that the government reached out to a number of NGOs, I can't remember how long ago now, and talked to a number of NGOs and when they reached out to the National Wildlife Federation, this was formally through the office of the USIA, the US Information Agency, I know that that outreach was a consultation with the US TR and other agencies involved in trade negotiation, that there were requests to ask us to reorchestrate what began on a large level the Transatlantic Environmental Dialogue - a request that we resisted for a long time, I didn't feel that NWF was properly constructed to initiate a transatlantic environmental dialogue since we don't have any sister organizations in Europe. But my outreach to the other groups actually built for it. I didn't produce any satisfactory results. I couldn't get the World Wildlife funds of the world or Friends of the Earth of the world either. They were interested initially and they thought it made sense to create this opportunity, this avenue for this dialogue with governments but also an avenue through which healthy advice could channel or be channeled. So they had a sensitivity of it. We talked to the US NGOs about it and after a lot of consultation and a number of fights, the community agreed that it made sense to initiate it and under the auspices of the National Wildlife Federation as the first point of contact and by then the Europeans had picked EBB and John X and John and I established a relationship based on both friendship and professional input and that's how it got started.

How do the governments make use of the TAED?

A good example is the last time we had bilaterals with Europe last week. We were... the meeting was preceded by the dialogue with the NGO community. So we met with the NGOs actually for the first time as government officials from both the United States and the Commission and they gave us a direct input and then we met the day after and both their formal recommendations but also the interactions shaped and colored the conversations we had as government representatives. We would talk about an idea, I can't be specific, but we'd talk about a particular proposal that we had and we bounced it off the input the NGOs provided, the general feeling, their concerns and objectives. So it was very much flavored or shaped or colored the conversations of later. Independent of that, the United States government meets with, and I'm involved in Transatlantic Consumer Dialogues, Transatlantic Business Dialogues and the Environmental Dialogues, we meet with those dialogue constituents on a regular basis and get input. We met with transatlantic environmental dialogue folks last week. I didn't because I was still cleaning up house at the Seattle stuff at the White House so I wasn't available for the meeting. So we've institutionalized the discussion and that provides NGOs with a direct avenue at the senior staff level but also at the first political level.

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

Possibly. As a government, we have particular policy objectives. We will use whichever avenue helps us achieve the objectives that we have. Now whether or not, let's use a specific example, whether or not the dialogue is being used, if you will, by the Commission to try to change US position on GMOs, you'd have to ask them. And it's difficult to say whether or not it as a specific avenue is compelling us to rethink or reshape our position on GMOs or say labeling. What I can tell you is that we have, we are actively engaged in a process of public outreach to decide, to help us make a decision about labels. So it's one piece of a larger puzzle that involves a lot of avenues and a lot of input that has positioned the United States to think about it's policy objectives on labels.

How does the government consider their relationship with the NGOs of the TAED?

The word that comes to mind is constituents. And those are our constituents and the reason that it's important to interact with the business dialogue and the consumer dialogue and the environmental dialogue, and uh, what was the other one?... There was the foundation dialogue that kind of died, one other...development...That represents communities within a constituency and it's important to talk with all of them as we make policy. So I guess the best word to think of is constituents which to some degree involves partner and pressure group. It's the role of our constituents to give us advice and to push us in particular directions. It's our job to balance those pressures to, in a manner consistent with the president's policy objectives, and do our best to produce sound policies.

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs?

It's not fair for me to assess whether the Europeans are doing a good job. I think it's better for me to focus that question inward and say how's the United States government doing. I think that one of the lessons that Seattle taught is that we need to engage in more effective outreach to our constituency earlier enough in the policy process that it better influences the decisions we take so that we don't reach the end of the day and have all of these tensions between the government and our constituency groups. And the question is how do you do that.

The United States and the European Community have a lot in common - both culturally speaking and economically speaking, they've both a fairly well developed regulatory regime. Our thinking is that if we can reach a consensus on policy positions here, that that consensus can influence not only our own discussions, but local level discussions. Now that model for trade policy development has been criticized in the aftermath of Seattle as a failed or inappropriate way to develop multilateral consensus on policy objectives because depending how you describe it, Seattle is all about the US and the Europeans beating each other up over what the agenda should be and then trying to convince the rest of the world to take it on. I'm not going to comment on that, but to the degree that that's an accurate reflection of what happened in Seattle and it contributed to the fact that we didn't produce an outcome, a ministerial declaration. Perhaps it's not the appropriate model to develop positions to engage in multilateral discussions, but it was built in recognition of the common linkages between our countries. One of the things that we talked about early on is while it started, if you will, on the backs of the trade tension, there are a whole lot of transatlantic dialogues that deserve attention, that are independent of trade, one of my colleagues at EPA does a lot of sister city work on sprawl.

Sprawl?

Europeans are way far ahead of the United States in terms of dealing with urban revitalization programs, so it's not just sprawl in terms of things that keep growing out, but what do you do with 'ground fields'? ...more highly compacted with less geography that spreads people out, the Europeans, and their cultures are older than ours and they've had to deal with, know what to do with xxx that have gone into disrepair, that have an important historical value, maybe if they revitalize the building it affects the neighborhood. So there's a lot of information sharing that goes on there. There's a lot of information sharing about climate change, there's a lot of information about a whole host

of issues that are consistent with the framework of the Transatlantic Environmental Dialogue. X organic x, sound chemical management - these are perhaps related to trade, but not directly related to trade. And they deserve attention that the Transatlantic Environmental Dialogue can actually bring to the issue of the constituents.

In terms of the demands of the NGOs within the TAED, how does the government then evaluate what they ask for?

It's not quite as formal a process. It's kind of in function of what we are focused, whether or not...what is your background? Did you do political science?

Political science and I did an International Relations BA.

As a former professor of political science, I can't help but think of the stuff that helped me understand policy process. A guy named John Kingdon writes about how policy is a process of people being in the right place at the right time with good ideas but xx in the policy moment so lots of experts are out there cooking up ideas and lots of times they're really solid ideas but often times there isn't the window of opportunity where the policy idea can insert itself and have an effect. NGOs are developing good ideas and are pushing them on us all the time. It's their job. Sometimes the window is open, sometimes the window is shut, sometimes people like me try to pry open the window, sometimes people like me try to close the window. And so, it isn't quite as formal as we sit down it's a product of a political moment, the political opportunities, the feasibility of the idea...so, all of those factors are taken into consideration when we review the advice given to us by the transatlantic environmental dialogue folks and others and we weigh it against the other constituents' advice as we try to make decisions, but it's fair to say that we review it as we are trying to make decisions and what's good about the TAED is that it's now relatively early enough into the process that it kind of influences as we're making decisions as opposed to after we've made a decision and then try to change our minds.

How then do the governments treat the NGO demands?

Well, the EU is giving written responses. We are not. A lot of it is...a lot of that reason is because the internal bureaucracy for writing a letter is monstruous. I mean, just to get a simple letter recognizing the receipt of takes an incredible amount of time because every agency has to sign on to it and that process take a lot times and when you're overworked and underpaid you relegate that response down here. We put a different priority on it. And that to a great degree explains why we resist kind of sitting down and writing back and a dear Amanda, in response to your xxx environmental dialogue and here's our formal reaction. The trade environment policy paper that we produced and released two weeks ago is the product of taking into consideration taking into consideration transatlantic environmental dialogue input, input on WTO ministerial stuff, input and all kinds of reactions to NAFTA Chapter 11 and that document was my baptism into the government. They had already begun to discuss it - it began in March '99. It ended in November of '99. There was blood and dead bodies all over the place. So, it was very hard on us to produce it. It was important that we do it. I'm glad that we did it. That kind of exercise, we hope people see that document as a formal response to a series of letters. I know it's not the same. I think the European have a little more streamlined internal process. It's one reason however why, from a government perspective, you can get a different message from DGI 11 and DGI 24 because they didn't necessarily coordinate the message before they sent it out. Whereas DPA can't respond and tell A, "trade, commerce, sign off on it." They say, "Ah well we have a problem with this or we shouldn't do that, or you know we've got these negotiations going on over here so we want to be sensitive to them or we don't want to spill the beans kind of stuff, so it's in many ways the internal logistics of responding formally and I apologize for that. It's kind of embarrassing, but that's the way it is.

What makes certain NGO demand more legitimate than others?

I really think it's the windows thing again. Circumstances create different perceptions in peoples' lives. The fact that certain people are working on them and others aren't. Relationships actually matter a lot. It all has an impact. The Seattle Ministerial outcome has an impact. I'm not ready to characterize what that impact is per say or the irony of what we're all asking for is that we are asking for greater transparency both in terms of the secretariat itself but also for developing countries. We're also asking for a labor and environment agenda for example. As you develop a more equitable relationship between, well, among developing countries' secretariats and developed countries, you make it that much more difficult to integrate a labor and environment agenda into the ministerial or into a negotiational agenda because the developing countries are so actively opposed to it.

I guess the success of the dialogue depends in many ways on government's commitment to take it seriously. I think we're at a point where we have to assess it's utility versus it's cost. Prioritize it with competing pressures and then make a judgment call. I still think it's a healthy dialogue even though I'm on the other side. I think it has the potential for being one. I would like to devote more time to it. I think I can devote more time to it now that the Seattle Ministerial didn't produce a declaration. It enables me to reshuffle my own portfolio. Some of it has to do with the inter-agency process here in the United States. It depends on how the agencies internalize their lessons from Seattle, whether we develop a healthier inter-agency process so that we don't feel quite as constipated. And then we add links to civil society through that channel or other channels. So, it's now at the end of this administration a lot of our attention will be focused on internal reform.

I can't say what the NGOs will achieve - it's not appropriate for me to speak, to answer that question because I'm now too far removed. And it's not my job to give them advice. In fact, it's illegal.

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?

The easy one is transparency. And now I can only speak on behalf of the United States government, but the NGO community and the United States government are advocating for a more transparent process. We have to figure out what that means, but I actually think we're on pretty solid ground on that one. The advice that the TAED gave us on labor is actually consistent. We actually followed it. They said we need to come up with a better policy on labor but we don't want WTO rules to do it. So we took their advice seriously and we did not make part of our objectives pushing for clarification of WTO rules for the use of ecolabeling. It's been a while since I looked at their advice, so it's hard for me to say and I didn't have time to review the last letter they sent us and I didn't go to that last meeting. No new rounds, that was one of the advice that they gave us, you know, that...the US government is already committed to trying to negotiate a new round...I'm going to have to stop there.

Part of the US position has been that the TAED hadn't yet kind of formalized itself well until the first meeting here in Washington. The government felt strongly that it had to be officially launched before we could officially recognize it. That official launching was the spring of '99 and now we officially recognize. So, the consumer dialogue had a launch a little earlier and we officially recognized that for it's launch, I think the launch

was here in Washington also. They should be in a position to give us the kind of advice we can respond to now assuming, accept that, I remember early on when we would meet with the US government, me being a representative of the NGO community, and they'd say "well, the dialogue hasn't really started yet because it isn't formal yet," and we'd say, "well, we've been talking about for 10 years, I don't know what you mean." The government recognized that the dialogue formally began with the meeting in Washington DC in the spring. That was the first time the Transatlantic Environmental Dialogue actually gave us advice. The second set of meetings took place here last week. I'm not sure if they included both sides of the Atlantic or just the US side. Again, it was an opportunity to give us advice and respond to our policy positions. I guess the best thing to say is that we're in a situation where as we develop policy, we're considering their input and it's both procedural and substantive. We are closer to one another's positions on procedure than we are on substance right now, I think that's good.


Entretien J : United States State Department

Bureau of European Affairs, Deputy Public Affairs Counselor

Washington DC, 21 décembre 1999

How does the government form a part of the TAED and makes use of it?

Let me start with, I think the main thing, have you seen the dialogue principles statement that was sort of pinned to the back end of the SLT Report at the last Summit?

I'm not sure...

I will get you a copy of that at some point. That was pretty much was a document that's been agreed to by both US government and EU. They laid out some, in very general terms, in very basic principles, for how we as governments can interact in the environment dialogue, the various and some of the others that are currently out there as well as any others that come up or get formed. I think the most important thing for us, at least from the US government perspective, is that we really do view the dialogue as wholly separate and independent from us and obviously, you know, are there to try and build and increase the existing ties that are already there between European and American NGOs and try and then give us as possible some kind of understanding of you know, in effect, where the environmental community and the transatlantic environmental community is on a number of issues that we've already been working on in a sort of government to government capacity. One of the things that the principles document lays out, and this is why I mentioned it, is the notion of how we as government intend to basically interact with the dialogue and what we see as sort of their relationship to us. Putting it in easiest possible terms, we supported the creation of the dialogue because we wanted to have a vehicle for having input from environmental groups as well as from some of the other organizations that, some of the other sectors of civil society that we've worked with too. And we hope that by having that input, just as we've done again with some of the other groups, it'll give us an opportunity to use that as influence our own thinking and decision making on issues that are important. One of the things that all the dialogues sort of spring from in terms of their overall relationship with the government is the fourth chapter in the transatlantic agenda which is written large about expanding quote people to people cooperation but if that comes from, from the government perspective, a realization that we as government officials can have any kind, level, number of conversations we want with one another, but that for the transatlantic relationship, the US-EU relationship, to really grow and prosper, we need to have the active involvement, engagement, participation of all kinds of people who are outside of official institutions and the dialogues are one part of that. Other things that we've done, we've got a joint agreement on higher education that tries to provide US-EU University linkages, scholarship programs, our EU Fullbright program's covered under this - those kinds of things. We've also helped establish a couple of internet based organizations that have no particular, specific issue area of focus but are just built on the idea of trying to be a bridge and a x for information for folks on either side of the Atlantic trying to put in contact with them. So, the dialogues, and the environment dialogue in particular, all sort of factor in to that, they're part of, for us, a broader process of trying to facilitate sort of broader community participation in it and I think that's probably, while I think we and the EU approach that at times from a sort of slightly different perspective based on some of the historical differences between us, it's very much, I think, in keeping with just the whole notion of participatory democracy which is central to both our systems.

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

Well, I mean, I look at it as something more of, it's kind of an organic process really. I don't think, as governments, I think we'd be foolish if any of us thought we were somehow able to sit there and, "Oh yea, if we just push our NGOs this way, then they'll respond exactly..." you know, I think both sides have to be realistic about what they're going to get out of this. What I think, looking at both sides, what I think this provides, what I think the TAED provides for the NGO community is something different than what it had before which is a formal structure and vehicle for being able to engage policy makers on a specific set of issues that they know are being discussed and to do so in a way that gives them at least parity in terms of access and parity in terms of standing, in particularly business groups which has been, this sort of relative lacking of parity is something that's been a concern to them and I think helps NGOs build on the cooperation and I know, and I want to make sure I'm clear about that too, nobody in this building or anywhere in the government thinks we somehow invented the notion of transatlantic cooperation between environmental NGOs. I mean, clearly, there was a hell of a lot of stuff that's been going on out there and will continue on its own that's totally extraneous to the TAED. But what the TAED does again, is provide a formal vehicle for NGOs to approach government and a formal means for the NGOs themselves, to at least those that are participating, to try and establish common transatlantic positions and I think that carries a lot of weight. I think that makes a big difference for us and, from government perspective, it's helpful to know that. You know, you get bombarded with things that individual groups think and even if they're similar, they're not necessarily always the same and finding the nuances there and I think just in a general, certainly an American political tradition too, you know, joining, having individuals or even individual groups join together in larger coalitions only adds to the importance that their message is given and the likely chances that they'll be heard. Now, well look, specifically on trade policy, I don't sit at the US TR which is our main trade program, but I'll try not to dodge the question. I think that, and this is very true of US government, US government has a mandate that is not just to take care of the business community. US TR's mandate is to consult broadly and widely just domestically here in the US with all interested parties on any of the trade issues that they handle. They have, you know, established a long-standing advisory, the US advisory Commission to the US TR depends on environmental groups reps on it, it has some consumer group reps on it. Certainly, it's majority business interest but there is a representation out there. When they are about to take any kind of formal position on anything, if they have to publish register notices, see comments, and then evaluate those comments and respond to them...So, I mean, there's a long standing tradition here of trying to incorporate the views of other non-business elements of society in our trade policy. I think, you know, this dialogue is a two-way street and I think some of the recommendations that the dialogue's already made have in fact already been incorporated in one way or another in US policy on trade related issues. Will all of them? No, no more than all of the business dialogue's recommendations or anyone else's will be adopted. You know, again, for us as policy makers, we're not looking at the TAED or any of it's other affiliate dialogues or anything else as sort of the single font of wisdom particularly on trade which is a cross-cutting issue. You know, everybodies' recommendations and ideas have to be balanced in creating that policy. What I will say is, I think that the TAED is in a much better position as the TAED, some better, can make their voice better heard and probably have some greater inputs in at least the trade dialogue, with the trade development and trade policy between the US and the EU than they would acting as sort of individual constituencies. And you know, on sort of something specific, the president came out with an executive letter, so, about three weeks ago, the very end of November, it was almost a month ago, that basically met a key TAED request which was, there was a formal announcement that any new major trade agreements would have before they were signed off on a formal environmental review and that that review would consider not only current but future potential impact on that sort of broad ranging environmental question. Administration also came out with a fairly broad based statement on trade and environment policies that looked at some things like precaution, like the relationship between trade agreements and MEAs and other things, now these were, you know, staking out a formal position, they, in particular in light of the failure of Seattle to agree on the start of the New Rounds haven't, been translated into what comes next but a lot of those positions that were adopted were not 100%, but certainly were more along the lines of what the TAED had recommended and I think while these were domestic actions that were more broad than just part of US-EU relationship, part of the impetus for this was the dialogue that had been taking place at this level as well. And clearly and obviously with an eye towards making sure that not only American but also the European and other NGOs that were meeting in Seattle had an understanding that this administration, you know, does treat these issues seriously and does want to move forward. The other thing that's very important is that we've, we're certainly, we are basically in 100% agreement with the TAED and we're ahead of our European colleagues on the issue of transparency.

We've been very strong in trying to push forward with the things the TAED has recommended and we believe very seriously in being positive and that includes opening up procedures at the WTO to interested members of the public, allowing NGOs to file and get briefs in to all cases, giving, making it, making the process of the documents that come out of the cases in the dispute settlement process more readily available - meaning you know a day or two after as opposed to a couple months after which is frankly more of a, just a technical failing on the part of the WTO. They literally don't have the staff to be able to do these things and stuff. But, you know, so I mean I think in that sense there's already a visible impact from this, and clearly this administration has got, I think, some real sensitivities to these issues and we'll see where it goes. But it's, you know, it really is a dialogue in several senses - it's a dialogue between NGOs and it's also a dialogue between the NGOs and each government individually and then the governments collectively and where we ultimately go on any of these I think depends on where the senior level goes. Ultimately they do what they're supposedly paid big bucks to do which is say, "OK I have a whole set of competing interests here and where do I draw the individual line on the questions. You know, which you know at the WTO one of things where we were standing, we and Europe were standing relatively low, we're on some of these issues. We're trying to incorporate greater involvement on environmental and labor issues in particular to the process and you know ultimately we have to, particularly with the WTO, have to be able to work with all the other member countries and get every one to agree since it's a consensus based institution, so, you know, in that sense, I've talked with Rina and other people about this too, I share their frustration that in some ways, for many individuals and for many governments, this agenda has instead of being viewed as a legitimate effort to do things that will be beneficial for all WTO members, that our efforts to find means to incorporate advanced protections for the environment and other rights are somehow a hidden protectionist agenda. And that's something that we've got to work on. One of the statements that came out of the Summit here on Friday on our involvement with WTO goals stresses some of those points in terms of efforts at capacity building and doing things to make it easier for developing countries to take advantage of the system that exists and in effect try and make it so that there is a sort of greater ability on their part to engage in the system and use it to their advantage.

How do government officials consider their relationship with NGOs within the TAED?

I mean, you know, I think there's also...and I don't want to put too...Well I don't want to draw distinctions too broad because this is gross generalization but I think too, there's perhaps more of a tendency in Europe to view the world between government and NGOs as somewhat more of a as a mediating or as a having sort of bureaucratic champions that then go and fight things out with the council. I think there's a little more of a tendency in Europe to sort of do things in sort of a horizontal or sort of a vertical, a vertical fashion where the NGOs go up the scale and don't have necessarily a lot of prospects or action. I think the US system tends to be a lot more, have a lot more of a sense of political process, of wanting to have different elements of civil society kind of engaged with each other, in a sense work out what they can or at least talk to each other sufficiently so that the policy makers as well as legislators can kind of get a sense of where there may or may not be consensus. Ultimately they're both based on building consensus - it's just a slightly different way of getting there. And again, I don't want to exaggerate, like it's all one way in the states and all another way in Europe. There's elements of both there but I think ours is, if there's a center point, ours is slightly to one side and Europe's situation I think is slightly to the other. But you know very much we have, we've established here a senior level coordinator for managing issues related to the TAED and that's Franklin White who's the undersecretary for global affairs. Frank comes from a foreign NGO background so he clearly has a great deal of interest in this... Also Dick Sanlow and Ken Brill, the assistant and principle deputy assistant secretaries for oceans environments and science are very active in meeting with these groups and I think you know from their perspective as well as from our inter-agency community, this is again, it's basically an avenue for sharing and exchanging ideas and for cooperating where we can and where we can't or where we have legitimate differences. At least having us, having an opportunity to explain those differences to one another because I think to a certain extent a lot of these kinds of activities have to start with making people feel like there are clear open lines of communication and that there's some trust that's there. I think we very clearly feel that as so many of environmental issues have become important international policy concerns that go well beyond certain traditional domestic agenda here that we want to make sure we've got a sort of full and open lines of communication that we can basically find ways to talk with people who are leaders in their fields in the environmental community because obviously, like, climate change, trade and environment, biodiversity, or whatever, these are opinions that really matter and that help set the tone and provide a leadership for sort of society in general. You know, I think most average people out there have a pretty positive image of at least some of the larger individual NGOs that are involved in the TAED like the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation - they're groups like that are fairly well in standing and they're nationally based and you know if they say something on an issue it makes people think and it makes people want to understand things better. So if we've got a situation where we've got this group, we've got this group that's not only representing US NGOs, but again a sort of transatlantic association, it would, we would be absolutely crazy not to take full advantage of an opportunity to talk these things through with them because I don't think, our ultimate objective isn't to somehow magically convince everybody in the TAED that we're just wonderful and every policy that we adopt is exactly what they want, I mean, that's silly. It's not the purpose of any of the exercises we're doing here but again this transatlantic relationship is extremely important to the United States and to the EU as well and it can't be a relationship that exists only between government bureaucrats - it's gotta be a relationship that has a tremendous amount of input and engagement from civil society broadly and civil society feels they have a statement or a reason to want to be involved here and you know, that's, I come from a background that is, I was part of the old USIA until we were merged in with state in October and I've done sort of an equal amount of time doing more traditional sort of press relations type work and then more cultural affairs relations, but I view this as very much, the whole TAED development process as well as the other dialogues as very much in keeping with our traditional exchange activities. You know, the idea is not to influence people on a specific issue - the idea is to make sure that there are opportunities for people that may not know as much as they would like about what our policies are to learn about them in a more detailed way and have an open means for doing that, also people who feel like they might not have a chance to express their points, their points of view on policy, if they don't they get a chance to do that. It really is, nobody's sitting here again saying that we have all the answers or that this is somehow some effort to you know win over people. It really, we really do look at it as a dialogue and think that a lot of times the perspective that the NGOs bring in this format is something that might not have been necessarily raised with us or might not have been raised in a very clear form and you know so it's something that I think really provides a lot of benefit for us. And you know we'll see, it's been out there only since May of last year so, it's a new process too. How far it goes, where it goes is kind of up to all parties involved. We can make it better or worse, the use of it on both sides.

How do governments then evaluate and treat the NGO's demands?

It actually, in the case of the TAED, it's a little bit different just because they're issues are so cross cutting. We have again, you know, undersecretary Loyd, is sort of the senior level coordinator and he receives the recommendations. Now if there's something, sometimes there's stuff that, climate change for example is something that's really led by the state department and the people that work directly for him. Those recommendations are principally farmed out to deal with that - two people in his office would also to anybody else in the inter-agency community that's involved on trade and the environment and sort of the lead point in that are some of the people in the US TR but of course they're also here in this building. We have, you know like the EU's DGI, we have a tremendously complicated and a lot of times overlapping set of bureaucratic interests so, I mean, the short answer is Frank's office, his staff makes sure that anybody's who's got a relevant stake in the recommendations the TAED's presenting get a chance to look at it and review it and then his office works with them to coordinate, sort of, you know, responses that we'll provide when we do our regular meetings with the steering committee. And one thing that we're trying to do now, again, it's still an ongoing process. I mean, you know, we kind of have to keep on working to make it better as we go, we've pretty much done, tried to do meetings, sort of like the last TAED plenary itself where sort of all broke down in working groups, sort of every single issue on the agenda was covered. One of the things we're trying to do now is not stop doing that broader based meeting but also get more readily established connections between more of the, some more of the real hard core working level people and do sessions that are sort of exclusively focused on one basket of issues rather than trying to cover the water flood in one two hour meeting that then lapses over to three and a half hours and makes everybody crazy. But you know, that's, I know this is one difference that we have with the EU. We have chosen, as a government, not to do written responses to the recommendations on that scale frankly based on just the problems within our own inter-agency community in working on getting somebody a piece of paper that everybody will sign off on without changing the comments 57 times. The other thing I think too is that, this is very much what undersecretary Loyd has said in his conversations with the TAED, is that the hope is that we can make this a clear enough dialogue, a clear enough process that if people want updates daily, they've got the contacts to be able to call the people and do that and that what we'd rather do is work on moving our positions forward from where they are rather than trying to spend a lot of time and energy putting them down in writing which ultimately, it's sort of like taking a picture or taking a poll, well if you have that polling information or that photo right at the moment it's taken it can be useful, if it takes you sort of 6 months to get there and get it, you're not even really getting an accurate reflection of where things actually are. I give all credit to the EU for having the desire and the manpower to engage in that and we've again, not just in the TAED but in all the dialogues including the business dialogue and the consumers and labor just chosen to work on the basis of old briefings and if people don't feel that they're getting enough of what they need, then we try to arrange follow-up meetings but, gee, if we don't have the right, if the person who's here discussing climate change isn't focused on one very narrow topic that people really want some answers on then we'll do a follow-up and get the person that's sort of ...we'll do that by phone or do that by...I think the one thing that everyone on both sides, I think has really started to appreciate is that doing this is a fairly time-consuming effort for both the NGO community as well as with government but the one thing that's really good about is that, again, the recommendations come in, they get primed out and if people are A) forced to look at them and read them and think about them and in the course of thinking about them, I think it helps really make people more aware than they might otherwise have been of where the community stands and occasionally gives them ideas that they really totally had never thought of before.

What makes certain NGO demands more legitimate than others?

Well, I think they're all legitimate. I think the question is like I was saying before, you know, senior level policy makers are paid to try and find the balance between competing interests where there are competing interests a lot of times on environmental issues, people are staked out all over the place. I think there are, it's like anything else - I think if you look at ultimate goals and objectives, I think everybody agrees on the same thing. We all want to have a healthy environment. We all want to be able to do things to reduce the problems that are out there, whether that's climate change, industrial pollution or something else. The means for getting there are sometimes different and that's why you need to have the discussions. I think, to give you one example that I think both me and you would agree on, again going back to trade and environment issues, we have said fairly directly to the environment dialogue - there were a lot, we have a limited number of things that we believe we can do within the context of the WTO. We'd actually, most of your recommendations on the WTO are things that, you know, at least in general terms if not in specifics, we feel fairly comfortable with and a number of things we agree with. The only problem is the people that are paid to do the negotiating within the WTO have to factor in whether they can India or Egypt or whatever other, the entire rest of the membership, to go along with those ideas. I think sometimes, and this is true of any set of constituent interests or civil society, there's always a tension between what is ultimately desirable and what is politically doable. And I think all of us in government look first and foremost and say, "Well, it's a huge agenda. We all have only limited amounts of time, energy and effort that we can put into anything. Let's first and foremost start with those things that we think are right now ripe for the picking. But there's always a tension between the incrementalist nature of government because government, except in very rare circumstances, is not revolutionary, it's not going to produce radical change overnight and particularly in any kind of multinational, multilateral setting. There's always going to be, probably things are always going to move a little slower than people would like them to. It's ultimately not for me or for anyone else to judge whether, you know I wouldn't use the word legitimate or illegitimate, the ideas that people come up with are always going, are always legitimate. The recommendations that the TAED puts together are a legitimate representation of the sentiment of the member organizations and that's a very important thing. The question which I think you're getting at is in how it gets translated into policy. Well, you know, again, we have, it's a sort of arena for people who ultimately make major calls - that's the president or the prime minister of the EU who have to ultimately be able to weigh not only what people's interests are but what sort of format they're working in and what they can actually reasonably do. Just to give you one sort of example, I am probably stepping into stuff I've dealt with, but stuff that I don't know at all so if it turns out later my facts are wrong then don't take the truth in advertising. We have the, some of the things that have been proposed in terms of waste management policy and in terms of reducing certain kinds of plastics that are used - that's a real legitimate goal and concern - it's certainly, you know, we're trying to deal with this as a major problem. Unfortunately, some of the alternatives to those plastics have another consequence which is that they're much more flammable! And so, how do you, I don't know. I'm glad I don't have to make that decision. How do you make the call between reducing the use of certain kinds of plastics or synthetics that generally speaking are less desirable when they're released out into the environment versus the need to ensure that they're, you know, you do whatever you can to prevent fires by using materials that are perhaps more environmentally friendly but don't, aren't anywhere near as flame resistant, I... these are, like I said, these are the kinds of questions that folks who get elected theoretically have to ultimately decide. Most of us and I think the same applies to our colleagues in the Commission and members of the government as well, you know, my department here will make it's recommendations on individual issues based on what our interests are, other departments will make theirs and they...in a perfect world we all come out and sing Hallelujah, this is the direction we should go in and you know, it's an easy job for the president or someone else to decide on. More often than not there's competing interests and they have to be sized. But where you draw the line kind of depends as much on people's judgments as to what's practical, what's doable and what they can reasonably hope to accomplish in whatever setting you're in.

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?

I think the goals are pretty straightforward. Now, again, the trick is never, in most cases with anything involving the US and the EU, it's not agreeing on the goals, it's agreeing on how we get there. But I think very clearly everyone that I know in this government and certainly on the EU side as well is in favor of having a workable, practical response to global climate change but what that translates into in terms of specific positions is cop 4, 5 and now 6, you know, on those things, there's obviously going to be differences. I think we all are in agreement that environmental considerations need to be much more a part of the development trade rules. The president, our president, said that very clearly on a number of occasions and was in part accused of being willing to not have an agreement because of his unwillingness to not sacrifice certain positions on environmental or labor standards within the WTO so I think there's, we've some pretty clear agreement there, again, where I can certainly look and say, we certainly agree almost 100% with what, where the community is on transparency, we agree very much on the need for environmental review. We agree, I have to be very careful there, we agree very much on the notion that precaution needs to be a component of any kind of regulatory system for any kinds of products. But, again, gee,then we come back to, well, and as you know the language here gets interesting. Most of the time, including in TAED discussions, people refer to the precautionary principle... to keep from getting it long and boring, the basic response on this side is, "it would be nice if someone could define what that principle was and how it therefore ought to be applied." What we believe in and what the existing US regulatory system is the ability of the notion of precaution based on measurements aligned to risk. And that's ultimately the only thing we've got in terms of commonality. But even if you, and I actually think there's a language barrier here that's probably more important than policy distinction, what I've seen come out of EU discussions on for example what they wish to settle in terms of xxx, sounds like the sort of idea that they espouses is pretty similar to what our FDA and some other agencies do here and it's all based on the common issues of evaluating scientific risk and making decisions based on what information we can and do have, what potential risk there is if you're wrong and making, using a clear set of standards to evaluate what's there and make decisions based on it. That's seems the rational thing. But, you know, even if you say we'll agree on that, I know that among, and again this is not people being good, bad or not understanding, it is simply a difference in perspective. What some people feel is acceptable is not what others feel is acceptable. How we all measure those things becomes very important but that basically is up to individual society to judge. The one, I think great sort of fallacy, sort of trumped up debate, public debate over a number of trade adjustments is somehow the notion that the US or anyone else believes that the SPS agreement doesn't give countries the right to introduce and maintain standards that are higher than an international base line. The president in fact very much, you know he's come out and said absolutely not. We thoroughly and completely agree because a lot of our standards on environmental issues or on health and safety concerns are a good deal higher than they are in other parts of the world. At the same time, I think, for part of the sort of factoring in of everybody's interests...but, you know, it's a matter of drawing lines. I think the one thing we all have to be clear about, and again, this is where the TAED helps us. What we want to be able to do is ensure that everybody, we're looking for win-win solutions here. We want to develop things so that, again the trade topic is the most controversial so I'm assuming this is what you want anyway!

I'm trying to look at the direct relationship within the TAED and trade is -

Well, I think it's a reasonable example because of the WTO process and we haven't had, you know, if this we're last year I'd be talking to you about another process. But you know, I think what we're trying to craft is something that provides clear lines, clear standards and lines of protection of the environment but that also provides business with the opportunity to know what those standards are and how they can go about it here. All you want to be able to do so that everybody has to have the same kind of transparency and term regulations so that you've got, you know, in other things which means being able to say to anybody whether that's an NGO activist, whether that's a business person - Here's the system. Here's what it looks like. Here's the hurdles you'll have to meet...because that provides confidence to everyone. No one starts worrying that some underheaded deal is getting cooked against their interests. If the system's transparent, if it's clear, if it's got easily understandable standards, if procedures are open and people know, well, gee, you say you've got scientific basis for this, what's the scientific basis? Here it is. Here are the studies that have been done. Here's who's doing it under whose funding, under whose supervision. Here's an opportunity for public comments if people want to do that. But, anyway, again...I'm probably making, I'm making this point all wrong, I'm sorry. But the whole thing we're trying to do with the TAED is not sort of...the TAED is in one little box and everything else is in another. It's part of sort of an organic whole and the idea is to get as much as possible clear, sensitive where all the various actors are and giving those policy makers some better and clearer understanding of the issues at stake and the perspectives involved and hopefully making it so they make better decisions for all of us. That's the theory.


Entretien K : United States Trade Representative (USTR)

Director on Environment and Natural Resources, Executive Office of the President of the United States

Washington DC, 22 décembre 1999

How do the governments form a part of the TAED?

The government role is to listen to the recommendations from, I assume you call yourselves the working groups, that's what we call them on this side, I don't know if that's what you do over there, which is made up of the non-government organizations. Within the US government, each of the dialogues has a different point of contact, so for the environment dialogue the point of dialogue is the State Department, for the transatlantic consumer dialogue, the point of contact is US TR, for the moment, and the labor dialogue obviously goes to the department of labor. So the, we have always, at least all I can do is speak for what we've done in the US TR for the TACD, which would be that we hold meetings with most of the steering groups, but they set themselves up that way, but I think Amanda Johnson on this side has done the same thing, that they set up meetings between our assistant secretary level representatives and the steering committee to talk through issues that are on the agenda to make sure that the TAED is talking about topics that we're talking about so that you don't end up, you know, oh we're talking about the PICs agreement while we're signing the PICs agreement. There needs to be an opportunity for advice recommendation obviously needs to come at a time when we're at that point. The way that we have done it and the way I understand the TAED to have done it, is that you have, I'm not sure how many meetings a year, but as many meetings a year as necessary to talk about timely issues that are on the table at which point the TAED goes back and writes those recommendations. And as far as our perspective on how that should work, we have made ourselves available to the TAED or the TACD or the labor dialogue if they'd like to discuss with us any of those issues while they're formulating their recommendations. The consumer conditions for us that we would influence in any way the advice that we would receive from the dialogues,

Uh, that you would influence...

That we would NOT influence. We have never seen the role of the governments to be to guide the dialogues.

How does the government then make use of the TAED? How is it useful for the government?

I think it depends on the topic. I know that in the run-up to Seattle, the TAED came in with a list of things that they thought would be helpful in our negotiating positions on trade and environment - some of which, we had actually held quite a few consultations with the US NGOs in September before Seattle. A lot of the things that we discussed in those consultations appeared in their recommendations, so some of them we had a little bit of a head start on looking at and knew that that's where their interests where. So it'll be hard for me to differentiate between the recommendations that we looked at from the TAED before Seattle and a lot of the conversations that we had with them previously, so I don't want to suggest that we took everything the TAED said and did what we could with it because some of the issues we were already working on. It's a little bit hard to differentiate but the process at least as far as we've understood it here is that the TAED presents our assistant secretaries with recommendations which are then distributed to the staff and the people working on those issues.

How does the government consider their relationship with the NGOs in the TAED?

We consider the advice from all sources to be the same. Would you say they're partners? I don't know. We have elected officials. Would I say that an NGO group is comparable to an elected official? No. I would not. I mean that's...Would I say that most of our senior level officials take very seriously public opinion of which the environmental NGOs are a part of? Yes, absolutely. I mean I think the relationship is one of expertise and opportunity to inform. The difficulty obviously is that we receive advice from a very wide group of organizations and I assure you that the advice we receive from the labor people is not the same as what we receive from the consumer people which is not the same as what we receive from the environmentals. Is it is safe to say that we're partners with the TAED? No, of course not, any more than it's fair to say that we're partners with industry. I mean, if everyone is equally displeased with us, we've probably done a good job. If you imagine the relationships that need to happen, our feeling very much is that civil society needs to have an opportunity to advice us on where they see the downfalls of our decisions and where they think we're making actual progress.

It's definitely very helpful for us because what the TAED does is pull together a large group of people and tries to come up with some concensus advice, which in the environmental community is something that's been very difficult over the years because everybody cares about different issues. Quite frankly, labor's a much more oriented issue - you care about worker's rights, you care about the right to bargain collectively, you care about child labor. The environmental interests are much wider. One of the advantages of the TAED as far as we're concerned is that it brings together a large group of people who share different priorities.

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

No, I imagine I know where you're coming from and quite frankly we have a lot of difficulty with the perception that the EU is much greater than we are because as you might have noticed, I mean, that you're [EU] not pushing a lot of issues that you had consensus on within the EU and when the Commission speaks as you might have read from Seattle on issues that are very important to the environment such as biotechnology, you found that most of your member states were not in agreement with the EU's position, the Commission's position. We think with one voice here - we have to. We don't have the division of powers that exist in the EU, which makes it much more difficult for us. We are very, if you look specifically with respect to the WTO, who's pushing transparency in the WTO? Who's got all the papers in? Who's the champion? Who's the only country in the world willing to open up our disputes to public participation? The answer is United States. The EU has resisted on every turn, so we, while the perception may be that a lot of, that the impact of civil society is greater in the EU, I think that depends...put your money where your mouth is. I mean, the US has put in numerous proposals on transparency. We would like to see briefs from environment organizations accepted by panels. We believe that the WT.., that the shrimp-turtle decision allows that, makes it very clear that panels can accept and make these briefs...We think it's very important that the public be allowed to observe disputes - whether in environment or you know subsidies - I don't care. The US has been the only, and I mean the only advocate for including the public in the activities of the WTO. So when you ask me who values civil society more...I turn the question back to you - you tell me. I mean, I'm serious here. We put in a proposal at the WTO for Seattle that NGOs be considered, that we do more high-level symposiums, that NGOs be allowed to observe certain functions, that there be more interaction between small and medium sized businesses and the committees at the WTO. We've asked for all of these things and we've gotten not a single taker who's interested in having more civil society participation in the WTO and that includes the EU. So, I mean you ask, it's a very difficult question. You have a very different system set up over there and you have a different system of elections than we do and so I think it's probably not fair to say who cares more but if you look at who's looking for change with relationships between government and the civil society, I think you'd be hard-pressed to tell me that the EU comes out on top. I mean you...I think you should go and look. You should go to the proposals on transparency at the WTO and you should look in there. You know, who is making efforts and who is making statements in their interventions at the WTO to include civil society? And who's putting the writing on the paper versus giving it lip service? This is the point that is very difficult for us. It's very hard for us to imagine that the EU isn't interested in helping us change the way we do business at the WTO.

And within groups like the TAED which is relatively smaller, is there that same difference - do you feel like the US is pushing much more for the civil society connection?

That's very...I don't know the answer to that. I mean I think the US has committed to transparency and committed to figuring out better ways to incorporate civil society views into our position. I don't really know, I guess, how that works in the EU. I mean, I think...Do you get you know more high level from the EU officials attending these things than the US? I think the answer is it depends where you're holding it. There were more high level officials at Brussels from Europe and there's more...you know, if you have to travel, you're not going to get assistant secretaries and deputy US trade reps who can clear their schedules for three days to fly over for a meeting in the same way you're not going to get high level EU commissioners who are going to fly over to Washington. I mean, so I don't think you can really, I don't think there's any way you can compare who takes it more seriously because you know, pure numbers tell you nothing and some of the issues that the Europeans care about a lot are issues that we don't think are problems and that works vice-versa so...it's tough. I'm not sure that I would feel comfortable with an answer to that question.

So within this dialogue though, the environmental interests are very different between Europe and America?

Yea. I think it's definitely very different...in the same way that you can tell by the language in some of the TAED working papers that the European NGOs priorities are also different than some of the US...it's not always the case. We share with Europe, I look I guess at the POPs negotiations. I don't know if you know what those are - the persistent organic pollutants negotiations. It's an MEA that the US and the EU care about very much and our positions are quite similar in a lot of cases. That reflects I think a commitment by both the US and the EU to the environment overall. I don't think there's much of a difference in the level of commitment to the issue of environment. I think that the way we go about that commitment is very different. And a lot of that is based on regulatory differences. We have very different regulatory systems. And those regulatory systems, I mean you can't imagine Pat trying to do something at the WTO or the OECD that isn't compatible with your national regulatory system. You have one system, we have another; so finding a way to make all of our interests work is very difficult. I think that the US and European NGOs share commitment to a lot of the same issues. The difficulty is more actually on the implementation side of those commitments.

My next question is how does government evaluate and treat the demands or pressures from NGOs

The recommendations are consensus recommendations. And if I remember how it was done last time, the American NGO steering committee read the first recommendation, the Europeans read the second. I think if they arrive at their positions, they have as hard of a time as we do, but they don't have to implement their own recommendations. You know, if you think about it, it's easier to come up with a recommendation at a very broad level that everybody could agree to than figuring out how to implement those recommendations within your national system. So I guess my answer to your question is that I think that the US and the EU NGOs can come up with consensus recommendations. I don't think it's easy. I don't think it's any easier than it is for us. I think that they have actually done a good job of coming up with issues that are important to both, on both sides of the Atlantic which is the idea.

Certainly from my perspective in the groups that I run here, I know that we all looked at the TAED recommendations and walked through them and tried to figure out if there were, you know, we happened to be writing a domestic policy statement about the first time over the summer when the first set came out and we just looked at those and asked if our policy statement covered some of those issues. I think the concrete effects are people focusing on the issues that are brought to our

attention, integrating them into a policy. Can you point to a particular recommendation that led to a particular policy? I think it's, that would be a much harder exercise. So with all due respect, I think that the US government and the EU Commission are thinking about a lot of these same issues so I don't think that the, I think what helps the most is the dialogue and the piece of paper where you're laying out your reasons and your interests. That piece of paper and those conversations contribute to policy decisions. And the high level attention that both of the sides have given this dialogue means that you have, at least on our side, the assistant secretary of environment, the assistant secretary for economics sitting at the table, each coming from a very different perspective but putting the position of listening to the reasons for perhaps enjoying the other. I think the concrete effects are that you end up with a wider group of people taking about a set of issues that have wider implications.

What makes certain NGO demands more legitimate than others?

Often what the recommendations from these dialogues do is make us think about are there other ways to look at issues that we hadn't taken into consideration. And as you think about the priorities on both sides of the Atlantic, it helps us in the sense that knowing there's commitment on both sides and we integrate into our policy if the EU is integrating into their policy. In theory we should have similar aspirations, which is helpful - obviously when a lot of people care about a certain issue, it brings a lot of attention to that issue. That's the advantage. Now I'm not sure, I guess when any group brings us a recommendation, what do you do with it? Well, you think about it and you think about how it fits into your existing policy or where your existing policy falls short or what the recommendation covers that isn't covered by your existing policy. And what are the gaps and what are the reasons for those gaps and are they...is it just simply an oversight or is it that you have other policy goals that are in conflict? It varies obviously from recommendation to recommendation.

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?

Are there common goals? In the broad, broad, broad level of generality, sure - food safety, sustainable development, you know, effective pollution control and environmental degradation measures - absolutely. When it comes down to the basics, the basics are there. You know, every time you talk about an issue, you increase the knowledge of the people sitting across the table from you and that's a two-way street. The, I guess, you're suggesting that the NGOs want to work on an exact policy. When you come at it from government perspective, it is very difficult for government to sit down with one group and come up with a policy. The US has a very wide system of consultation that ends on the hill. Making those policies is not something that happens by sitting down at the table with one group of people. I mean I think that as we look at the consultations we did leading up to Seattle for example, I would argue that reflected in our positions both by the things that we put on the table and the things that we did not put on the table. We're covering policies that are of interest to the NGOs. Now, they would have liked to seen us do other things... and we didn't find that they were things that we were capable of doing at that time.


Entretien L : United States Department of State

Agriculture Trade Policy in the Economic Bureau

Washington DC, 22 décembre 1999

How do the governments form a part of the TAED?

The TAED is an NGO/Government forum. I attend from the State Department's Economic Bureau. Occasionally, the US Trade Representative's office organizes meetings with NGOs to discuss TAED agenda items. Other attendees at both types of meetings include State Department's Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, and representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury, as well as FDA and EPA.

How do the governments make use of the TAED?

We report TAED positions, which are conveyed to the Deputies (sub-Cabinet-level) of our respective agencies. Deputies take these positions into account when forming new policies.

Could the TAED possibly help one government shape the agenda of the other?

My personal opinion is that some NGOs have adopted the EU position, so they cannot convincingly intermediate any bridging here. Many admit that their funding is from the EU. Some NGOs have stated that they are successfully pressuring EU politicians and officials, so I personally do not believe they are looking for flexibility on the part of the EU. When the NGOs adopt science-based, rules-based arguments, which is the context we are working in, the differences can be bridged quickly. I personally find it difficult to have a constructive discussion with NGO representatives that are yelling, referring to Frankenstein food, dressing up as monsters or insects, or mixing apples and oranges in their arguments - in a discussion on food safety, start talking about runoff from pig farms; in a discussion on dioxin, talk about biotechnology.

How do the governments consider their relationship with the NGOs in the TAED?

I can only speak for my bureau. NGOs are among our constituents and are given full consideration.

Do you think that there is one government that is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

Again, I can only speak for my bureau which is committed to substantively taking NGO views into account.

How do governments evaluate the demands or pressures from the NGOs involved in the TAED?

We read position papers from all parties.

How does the government then treat NGO demands or pressures?

Well, all governments want to serve their constituents,

But what makes certain NGO demands legitimate and others not convincing?

I am personally not swayed by those NGOs that demand at all - by yelling, writing letters to try to ruin professional careers, dressing up like monsters, disrupting international conferences, or ignoring the benefits of new technologies, the complex motives driving the trade issues, and the for a where they are debated. Dialogue that can lead to actual change requires a long give-and-take process, since both sides must find the point where they are both satisfied with the result. This requires good faith on both sides to participate in the process. Policy development is therefore a slow process, if it is to truly evolve to the point that change can be effected internationally. Destroying the only institutions where this dialogue can take place won't help the environment.

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?

We all want sustainable development and environmental protection. We sometimes differ on the ways to achieve this. I am involved in agricultural biotechnology, and my office (Agriculture, Trade Policy in the Economic Bureau) is concerned with all food safety, food aid, and agriculture-trade issues. My job is to look at the big picture, the relationship of one agreement with the others, and impacts of measures adopted.


Entretien M : Directorate General XI - Environment

Economist, International Affairs, Trade & Environment

Bruxelles, 28 mars 2000

How do the governments form a part of the TAED?

Well, the TAED is a relatively new institution. It was set up as part of the people to people dialogues and the New Transatlantic Agenda, but you probably knew that already. The first meeting was very much pushed by xxx. And I think it's very much seen as a community organ so in that sense the Commission's presence is also...the presidency, so we have the two there at the same time. It's not like the US would say we just have an administration there. We have an administration for all the Commission and...I'm talking about the joint session now that we have with the NGOs because obviously they have a whole event which lasts about two or three days. We only take part in part of it. And financing of it, well it was jointly financed by the US and the Commission supplies financing but I think we're a little more trying to get the NGOs to try and find their own financial mechanisms while understanding obviously that they don't have the same resources as this community to provide finance. A large percentage of their work does go to administration. In terms of participation of government, I mean again, it's in a process of development very much. In the last TAED in Washington...the first one was very much a launch. There wasn't necessarily much substantive discussion going on either between the NGOs and the administrations, nor so between the NGOs themselves. It was very much a launch and not really getting down to the substance whereas I think gradually there's a process where the NGOs are learning they have to focus on certain issues - not necessarily in their own discussions...but if they are to then form recommendations, we can take the TABD as an example which has been running for quite a few years now - very organized, they get, they focus on certain issues at each meeting and they give their recommendations which are summed up by everyone and which are very focused, very xxx and make it easy for the Commission or the community or the US administrators to then respond to those recommendations. I think it's going to take a while for the NGOs to achieve that level of efficiency present in their arguments and positions, but I think in October, we saw them gradually starting to learn how to do that, they don't necessarily... each other and they have all the different interests that they have to defend. But what makes it easy for us to participate in a dialogue like that is that issues are in an early stage. I mean, it's very hard for us to make NGOs understand how xxx it is to pair the TAED and to tie it to certain topics and certain issues and even certain questions to certain xxx. I mean,we want to be able to create discussion where NGOs are able to express on certain issues, but one of the things that...was trying to involve experts from the administrations and the technical discussions so to not just have a high level joint session between the administrations and the NGOs all together, but prior to that, to the technical discussions and xxx agriculture, industry, trade, whatever, to invite relevant members of the administration, both administrations, to participate in those events and to present policy in those areas and to discuss policy in an informal session. And I think that's a good idea, but one of the problems that tends to hit is obviously depending on whether the TAED is taking place in Brussels or in Washington, then the availability of the officials in each administration will be affected. So in Washington, for a forest discussion, it's very easy to find someone to talk about forests, whereas in the EU-EC delegation, either there may not be someone who's a forests expert or the person who's the forest expert is needed at the high level discussions which is what usually happens - high level discussions take place concurrently in the TAED - that's something we've encouraged because that makes it easier to have the high level xxx. So that's what happened in October and that's what's happening in the ...so, we'll say x had to be in the high level discussions when forests were being discussed in the TAED, so it's a good idea in theory but again, it takes a lot of preparation and also it's subject to the availability of the person. I mean, I, last time I was the forest expert and I'm anything but a forest expert. So I had some briefing on forests, but I didn't necessarily have much to say for the debate. That was, that could be...So that was kind of a bit of a baptism by fire. But I think certain issues seem to, people talk about certain points and I think the TAED is gradually learning, I think the problem we have is focus - NGOs trying to do everything in the TAED. If you look at the five working groups and the list of subjects to discuss...if we were to discuss every topic, I'm not sure how the output would be. It's about NGO's meeting, fostering discussion with NGOs, but ultimately xxx. And getting lots of messages on lots of different issues and expecting a response on all these different issues isn't necessarily the place....xxx. I think the scope of subjects is fine, but I think at each TAED they try and narrow the scope for each group, for example, to focus on a certain aspect or...you know, say with trade which naturally focuses on Seattle at the TAED, I think that was very successful because the NGOs were forming ideas, asking questions on certain issues. Luckily technical experts were available and there so they took part in the discussions before hand which was basic preparation for the joint session and allows NGOs really to get the administration on the spot for certain issues, whereas I imagine, on certain issues, xxx, esoteric approach specializes and the people there would not necessarily be able to get, to engage in debate on those issues and the issues are technical but topical...so I think as far as government's concerned, if we have as much notice as possible about what's going to happen, it makes it easier for us to prepare, easier for us to ensure that we're able to engage in debate

That gets at the next question - how do governments then make use of such a dialogue?

I think again it's a learning process. I think it's been very useful for us to have that kind of direct contact with NGOs and allow them to put their case across to us and to get a formal answer in a formal way. Different dialogues have different processes for dealing with the outputs that come out from the dialogue in the form of recommendations or whatever. The TAED, from the launch conference they managed to get a recommendation which the Commission replied to in writing and the US administration didn't actually, they replied orally. That's quite a bureaucratic exercise for us and quite...

When you say they replied orally, do you mean right there on the spot?

No, I think they had a previous meeting with the US NGOs prior to that TAED where they just discussed the different recommendations. But there was no kind of formal response on behalf of...certainly when recommendations do come out of the TAED, they should be circulated to the relevant units. For each TAED, which will then compare and look at the last TAED to see what recommendation's came out of that, whether compared to our written response it needs further clarification, whether it's repetition, what has changed, ingenuity, policy in relation to those issue. So, in that sense, I think one of the ways the TAED can be useful is in balancing the input of the lobbying. We've got a consumer dialogue which is quite well-established as well...the TABD which has very established...So what we're trying to do is build up the ATOL so that we have a balance...the right range of interests and not just losing to industry and consumers.

So that talks about the relationship between the governments and the NGOs. Between the two governments, American and European, can this dialogue be used at all to help convince one government to adopt the other's position?

As I said, certainly, we hope. So, I mean, I think. I'd really be so surprised to see that NGOs tend to be EC-friendly and anti-US, but I think on certain issues we see an increased role for NGOs to put pressure on the US and on ourselves as well if our policy seems incompatible with that certain issue, but for example at the TAED in October, we very much saw a position of NGOs on trade and environment that was much more supportive of the EC position rather than the US position. And you know we've spent many bilaterals with the US trying to persuade them of the rationale for our policy. And to a certain extent, there's only so much we can do in that forum and if NGOs then take up, I mean obviously they have problems with some of our policies as well, but if, I mean it's not like we are harnassing NGOs, but if we encourage NGOs to see what they like about different policies and challenge the other parts to say why is the policy like that, and not necessarily just tapped...well, think of it, perhaps NGOs tend to focus on what they don't like and not, well maybe it's not true at all, but focusing on what they like and why the US is adopting a similar position, why the EU is adopting a similar position. I mean in terms of the Commission, we made, for example, very much support of NGO position, and the member states, they don't want to go in that direction and if we're able to then state evidence of NGOs having a certain point of view as does the Commission such that that can help us as well in terms of fishing our pulses stands for xxx members states. But, I think there's certain xxx to look at the different policy stances in the different areas covered by the TAED and see what they want, they tell you what they want first of all and then see to what extent the different policy stances taken or expressed meet those demands and then use the TAED as a way of fitting other administration on the spot and saying why are you not doing that, why are you blocking that, why are you not ratifying that, you know. Because we can say that to the US, but we don't necessarily have the same reputancy and constituency that they do and I think, I mean another rule of the TAED is maybe perhaps sensibilizing, creating awareness among the US NGOs that there is a transatlantic relationship. I think we've certainly gotten the impression that US NGOs very much focus on the domestic US agenda and don't focus so much on the international or bilateral aspects of US transatlantic policy, trade policy, environment policy. So, I think we would see very much the role of the TAED to create awareness among those US NGOs, to try to get them then to ask the administrators, why are you not ratifying the convention on biodiversity, why are you not ratifying Basel. Those sorts of issues which, you know, we ask the US all the time but...and also domestically obviously you have to respond to these domestic questions and you have a constituency...

How does the government thus view the relationship with NGOs in this dialogue?

I think one of the key roles of the TAED is to ensure that NGOs become partners in the policy making process and not just pressure groups that are seen as lobby groups or... We'd certainly like it to develop towards a partnership...I think by fostering...the TAED is by it's very nature is hopefully a non-conflictual forum. I mean it can be conflictual in a way but by regularly meeting with NGOs and often the same NGOs, same people, then relationships develop between NGOs, between administrations, between administrations and NGOs. So in that sense, I think it makes it easier to de-emotionalize, de-mystify certain positions. So I think anything that contributes to increased dialogue between administrations and NGOs, maybe between the administrations I would say no because there's so much that we do with the US in a bilateral sense. In the sense of the US, we don't necessarily need a forum to dialogue with the US. But, I mean, but then you have a joint declaration for the TAED joint session with the US which is quite unusual because then you find yourself in a situation where we're all saying "what are those NGOs going to ask us? What are they going to ask?" And it's quite interesting. At the last one, it was the first time that technical experts from the different associations had been invited to the groups in the TAED. And that's what is, compared to obviously the US administration who was all sur place, we had maybe 5 or 6 people to play with, but we managed to send a few people, so in the prep-meeting, I was commissioned a question to say what was being discussed within the technical group and therefore gave the different information about ... or joint sessions...dealing with what issues will be discussed, what sorts of questions...

What else? I guess the TAED, in that sense, is a quite unique event. I would say that xx NGOs xx although the Commission has made a sincere effort recently in it's own issues to have more contact with NGOs. Commissioner Lamy has met several times with NGOs in the run-up to Seattle and will be meeting with them soon to talk about the post-Seattle process, but it's a forum where NGOs get together. There's lots of NGOs, there's lots of administration officials. It's not usually an NGO going to meet a specific official and trying to evolve with him like that. I think in that sense it's quite unique, a unique atmosphere which can be possibly very constructive. I think, maybe in the past, lack of preparation has hampered the deplority there too but I think that's just a learning curve, as the administrations and the NGOs start to work together, learn how to work together and as xxx...xxx.

How does the government evaluate and treat NGO demands in the TAED?

We don't have a formal evaluation method in and of itself. I mean when we did the written response, what happened was that on the different issues where different DGs and departments had the lead, they would then prepare an initial response and then we'd have a normal process of inter-service concentation where any other relevant DGs which had an interest would have an opportunity to comment, so then we ensured there was a Commission way of response and not just response from certain...so in that sense, the recommendations were considered at least in a technical sense. There's no kind of, proper process of evaluation...I think the fact that recommendations should be circulated and should be commented upon, I mean I don't think...to do written response every time just because that's quite a heavily bureaucratic process...it doesn't necessarily, I mean often it just leads to a re-statement of the policy rather than a development of the policy, so I think we're going to have to think about that. But I think, I mean, one of the most useful things is if you can have the responsible officials there at the TAED, so that's why it's very important to have people to speak with from the ministeries because then you can have dialogue and I think that's the most important part of the TAED at the moment rather than any kind of formal process of evaluation and response. I mean I think that's important too that we take the NGOs seriously, that we're not just going there and blah-blah, but I think at the moment one of the most important things the TAED can do is actually to get involved with the people who make policy such as the administrations... when it's a question...allow dialogue to take place...I think.

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?

Well, they both want a true dialogue.

How would you define this term?

True dialogue - I guess a true dialogue is where the different parties to the dialogue feel able to reach issues which are of concern to them and they receive an appropriate or xxx response to their wishes and I think that works both ways. Whether the TAED is a veritable dialogue, personnellement, I think we're getting there. I mean I think this relates back to a lot of things I've said before. Administrations are very bureaucratic and slow-moving processes and NGOs, although a lot of the bigger NGOs are bureaucratic as well, a lot of the smaller ones would be very quick to respond and aren't necessarily used to the types of skills involved in preparing a response. I mean it would be very good if we could just kind of call a TAED tomorrow and have all the important people there to discuss, but that's not the way the government works. So in that sense, if we have the preparation, then we have a better dialogue. So, I think as we learn how to work together - I mean that was discussed at the start, but it's very difficult to know how that will then turn out in practice. Trained specialists learning...for example the ...Commissioner...and that takes a lot of ambition. The Commission obviously we have to prepare briefing on various issues. But it's very difficult to tie NGOs down to what you're going to talk about and to a certain extent I can understand that because you don't want to go there and see some carefully drafted, easily worked response to a specific question. I mean at the last TAED in October in Washington, you have questions that the NGOs wanted to put the night before the meeting which was fine because Jim Currie was there. Jim Currie has experience...speaks on things...the Commissioner can as well but the Commissioner's in a much more visible and exposed position so in that sense the NGOs want a real dialogue they have to prepare themselves enough in order to allow us to get the Commissioners and the tools...because otherwise we're all working on a broad policy which is just kind of way out.


Entretien N : Environment - Directorate General I

'X' : Trade and Environment Desk, Directorate General I - 'Y' : US Desk, Environment - Directorate General I

Bruxelles, 28 mars 2000

How do the governments form a part of the TAED?

Y - Well, formally, the environment dialogue, the dialogues in general come under the framework of the New Transatlantic Agenda which is basically made up of People to People dialogues. The TAED comes under that. The environment dialogue is particularly mentioned in the Transatlantic Environment Partnership, TEP partly because it was generally perceived that the business dialogue was so strong and the need for some balance of consumer and environmental interests was imperative at that time- to try and bring in some of the NGOs. We of course ... financially the dialogue but on the condition that they're in charge of their own agenda...

X - So that's in formal terms, in policy terms it kind of fits into our wider strategic objectives. I mean I think it is useful for the Commission to know that on specific issues, in particular in relation to this multi-xxx bilateral relationship, there are people who at least nominally, whether they do it or not is another matter, but at least nominally they're following what we are up to. So when we want an expert opinion, obviously from an NGO position, there is going to be political content, but more important, I think it's useful for NGOs to learn that there is some sort of formalized structure and although we may not agree, I have to say, we are at least obliged to listen to it, so I think it has been, from a trade and environment point of view, in terms of effects. When I think to Seattle, for example, there were some genuinely quite useful exchanges between the NGOs and I think that the TAED seems to bring on the environment side quite a broad group of NGOs together, perhaps more than you might normally find so for example classic DG trade consultation, trade with environment, would involve the big NGOs ...devote to trade and environment on a specific given area, whereas the TAED, I mean we've had discussions where attitude ranges very much - for example...standardization...specific expertise in different medias of water so ...wide policy...trade and environment as a whole. I think it's quite useful...putting together different shades of NGOs. Although it's not always clear because the statements...tend to...I think it allows us to see the variety of views as well from the NGO community which you might not get otherwise. And I suppose...either the Commission or the US government depending on the issue may find it useful to have dialogue with the NGOs when the NGOs are on their side.

On their side...

X - For example, in the run-up to Seattle, there was an interesting discussion on the trade and environment...quite clear that the Commission and the NGO points of view were very much in line on a number of issues. The difficulty...for the Commission was to then try to persuade the US government to take on...So it's quite useful in bringing together, depending on your point of view of course, but it's quite useful to bring together NGO-NGO and government-government...

So do you think that the TAED can help one government shape the agenda of the other?

X - Well I think it's a reflection of the fact, and I don't know about the other dialogues, I'm trade and environment, but I obviously think it would be untrue to say that all environmental NGOs back the European Commission, because they don't. There's a lot of NGO skepticism about what we are doing and concern that we weren't ambitious enough which in a broad sweep of our proposals, I mean the way that we approached the inclusion of environmental issues on the round, on the agenda for the new round, I think it's absolutely fair to say that at the last meeting, the TAED showed a very strong xxx for the European Commission's position with regard to xxx. Now of course that's not why it is designed, but if you like, it certainly was a useful bi-product towards the fact that this dialogue exists - clearly where government defines xx support for it's positions for whoever it may be - environment, business, church groups, whoever, then it will make use of it. So I think our US colleagues were being entirely disingenuous.

In global terms, I think it would be hard to say. But from a personal point of view or observation, really in the context of that last TAED meeting, I certainly, and I think my colleagues in DG environment felt the same, in the working group we were in felt bolstered by the fact that the TAED was there and more confident about some of the issues and positions that the European Union were trying to push. I think, you know, ...is going to transform our relationship. But all these things, it's like drops of water in a pond. They all make a difference somewhere. And I think that if you accept that change is not just about bits and pieces of legislation that just sort of drip drip in a shift in attitude or approach, but I think actually probably one cannot xxx over a long period of time the TAED as just one factor reading into it. But you know, a change in approach on the US side towards civil society concerns on the environment, so they are now slowly taking more seriously the things that US, European and other NGOs have been saying for a long time about the need to reassess the relationship between trade rules and the environment policy. There is a slow shift of attitude and the TAED is, you know, one of the reasons for that. But it's only one of xxx, but nevertheless. The sum of all these individual causes will be probably actually greater. So you know it does, I don't know if by itself whether that's the same or not.

Y -...when you think about the relation, I mean it's very important and there are more levels of contact and regular meetings than any other bilateral relationship. And so therefore, it's a very natural question. If you look at something very specific like preservation which is considered here where ...from US government... but there is sometimes a visible xxx to that which we become aware of because we have a formalized structure...

X - But you really couldn't sit down and say, X piece of legislation is because of the TAED.

Y - The NGOs may think that it's so slow, but it goes back to the theory of policy making.

X - Eventually X pieces of legislation are created and are the results of a whole series of different cycles and influences and the existence of a dialogue such as this is one of those influences.

How do the governments then make use of the TAED? You may have already answered this, but do you have any other thoughts?

Y - Information is an additional function that would be channeled through the TAED... information with the aim of reaching a wider audience...so they can then disseminate furter...But from the Commission side in projects management terms, whether you write in information as a positive effect...this was a two-way process of facilitating information exchange. We recently sent out a White Paper on Food Safety and Communication on the Preacutionary Principle to all the Dialogues, for example.

X - The NGOs can be information sources as well, but I think in terms of technical expertise, it varies very much. For example, the EEB is an expert on standards. However, it comes with...appeals, so potentially it's useful, but of course...politics of xxx...so it's not going to have that great an impact, but I think on some issues they probably do bring added information. I would say that generally at least...it's a more...to the position rather than hard core facts and figures but I think DG environment may ...be more useful on that because the xxx that they talk about are purely environment...I mean, we have wide open discussions about trade and environment and benefits along the lines of globalization and so on and some technical issues as well.

Y - Developing specific research projects is one of the things that they're say they're working on at least but that we haven't seen much of so far is specific research.

X - I think we hope that as the work in the dialogues progresses, it will become more focused.... very wide ranging which is legitimate because it reflects obviously the concerns of huge numbers of the groups. It's not going to be a force particularly focused...in more detail or for certain subjects, I mean obviously there's going to be lesser subjects over the course of the life of it all, but clearly trying to tackle to a more focused fashion then I think the information they provide us will become more and more useful. At the moment, you could be surprised if government officials and experts in a particular area found such a broad statement really really really illuminating but if they were to produce specific papers, then I think they would be useful.

Y - One of the ...but we do sometimes...general relations with the US...getting less premium, societal...through the dialogue, but what we don't get...government. I can think of a specific example on something like labor and xxx. It's very clear that the opinion, at least in that part of US society represented by pressure groups, ...and so the pressure in that sense is geared as input and the same goes I guess the other way around - that they will get from our NGOs and from the business dialogue about what we are doing which is exactly what we're doing...

X - I think when NGOs talk about dialogue - it's not conversation they're interested in, but seeing the results of conversation. And actually that isn't what true dialogue is about, but I think that's what they're talking about when they say true dialogue, what they want to hear is that question they've asked and then some, so we reflect what they've said or we at least give a response to why we haven't. Now on that bit, I'm not sure what it is really that's in their wishes, but that doesn't mean it's not a true dialogue. It depends how you determine, you know, how you define it. But I think dialogue also, probably, I would understand, I mean more like this - something rather more fluid. This has to be a volatile thing - I mean every now and then there's a surge of activity. I mean, and again I have a lot to be ...response that the NGOs go and tell us what they want to do...in the community...you don't have time for this sort of on the phone every other day of the week. I mean I would say that we, in particular to trade, have a strong dialogue with two or three NGOs on two or three specific subjects and with the others we have this sort of sporadic relationship and I think at the moment, in broad terms, we'd agree that the TAED is a more sporadic relationship than constant dialogue, but I think that's always going to be the case to accept because neither side has got the time to do only this.

Y - Nxxx we don't.

X -Yea,

Y - And there's a difference there because...from our side in trying to help get the dialogue up and running.....there's an element of the dialogue kind of taking ownership of its own dialogue and knowing that where the accesses are and that they're informed formally but also informally...people are ringing me up and saying what is happening on X or Y, and I don't xxx from the dialogue -

People ringing you up, what kinds of people -NGOs?

Y - Yes, members of the dialogue who have contacted me which is good for the NGOs [to have these contact points] but it's sporadic and it's when say, WWF hears that something's going on [about developing a deeper]...level of relationship.

X - And I think it depends what's going on what a particular time. So if we were about to publish a draft environment direct proposal to the Commission which in particular NGOs are interested, then we'd expect a flurry of activity which then [after] may be quiet for months unless they xxx or we did something else.

Y - And on the other hand, our relationship focuses on the idea that if activity is on the diplomatic cooperation side, this is of less interest to the TAED than say High level environment discussions.

How does the government consider their relationship with the NGOs in the TAED?

Y - They're not voters.

X - Yes, they're not voters, but I suppose they potentially galvanize voters.

Y - They're voters in, it's slightly misleading in terms of the European Union. These people are not speaking to...the Commission...

X - But the other way around, I mean, if you think about the way that we would vote for example to influence what they were thinking about something like the WTO trade round, I mean the Commission ..., available so although the TAED would never vote for the moment...the TAED would be sort of directly saying yay or nay to government policy experts. We'd go have a meeting with them and they'd all say, yes it's a marvelous idea, that would trickle down to their NGOs, organizations in the member states which would in turn trickle down there. Partnership in my view is - it's not that it's putting it too strongly - It's that the nature of the relationship will always be unbalanced because basically this is where power lies...So I don't think - it's not, I mean it's not like the development field where the Commission may give money to someone establishing action aid for a whole program of water irrigation in whatever place...they work in partnership because the Commission depends on the expertise of the NGO to do it. There isn't that dependency between us and them. They seem to influence us as and when their views are in agreement with ours as useful, when they're not in agreement, one will try and persuade the other. But I mean ultimately, I suppose a lot of NGOs would say... NGOs in general, not just the TAED whereas ....policy views...so it's always going to be a bit. But I say it's improved, I mean, DG environment is very different because they have a much longer tradition of dialogue since dialogue on technical issues, on policy issues between the NGOs and policy commissioners in trade respects. Almost in parallel with the appearance of the TAED - we've also done our own in-house efforts on NGO dialogue which goes beyond...as with European NGOs. They're often the same people, so for example the European side of the TAED in the trade and environment group, well that would be not too dissimilar from the people that we in DG trade talk to in our own trade and environment discussion. So I honestly can say...

Y - In very short term...but in the environmental dialogue, whether that was totally, they're very sensitive about that....But I think that we've seen...that this kind of, what the dialogue's saying, post-script in a way or framework for what we were discussing anyway. So it's not that we will sit down and say...here's agenda point X. We must give the environment dialogue a means to see what they think, but on the other hand, we have conditions to the environment dialogue, which we're very aware of when we're talking with each other. So it's again a kind of growing...

X - So I think it has made a difference but I'm not sure whether it's made a difference in terms of relationship between us and NGOs. It makes a difference, I agree with Julia, it's now in the general framework. I was in a meeting this morning where we were discussing NGO relations in the...They make a difference in global terms, yes, although it's hard to measure how. Whether they have yet made a difference between specific relationships, I would question.

Y - ...the difference they've made in general terms in EU-US affairs is that they are aware of what's going on, whereas in the past this was not so much the case. This also goes both ways. Now their views are more channeled directly to us.

therefore, it's a very natural question. If you look at something very specific like xxx

X - I don't know more broadly about different European formal relations in general on the trade perspective. This dialogue is a relatively new thing, I mean dialogue with NGOs in general doesn't in fact pre-date...I mean it's a sort of - in the last four or five years I would say since the collapse of the talks ...identified as being one of the major reasons why that..., since then trade policy's been a lot more interested in talking to xxx - that has obviously been defected to the TAED, but I mean, I think this is still in its earlier stage where we are with trade. I don't know about the next stage. I don't know that a bilateral...general norm. I imagine...

Do you mean that the Commission is more structured than the US is, that one government is more committed to working with NGOs in this dialogue?

Y - No, in the US geographical area, there has not been much specific dialogue, the TAED has allowed development of the NGOs/Commission relationship but that was already well established in other areas of Commission like the DG Environment

X - Yea.

How do governments evaluate and treat the demands of TAED NGOs?

X - Well, long and painfully.

Y -...we have a process where we give a written reply in June. DGs consider the parts that are relevant to them...There's a formal response. It's a capital D dialogue really quite....then that's the official angle to it, to this relationship. We talk to our own side and we talk all together at a gathering once every year or for the environment dialogue twice every year and then...part of getting people at all levels....There's a formal response and we also have... a dialogue....It's a capital D dialogue really quite....then that's the official angle to it, to this relationship. We talk to our own side and we talk all together at a gathering once every year or for the environment dialogue twice every year and then.......part of getting people at all levels....[probably the idea of making links at all levels - formal and working - in the sense people know who to pick up the phone to on a given issue etc]

X - Yea, the other thing is again, it's part of the TAED being a drip amongst many which soaks into the puddle and then some official wakes up, so if the TAED statement - I don't know why I keep thinking of standards, but I do - if the TAED statement this time as last time talks about how international standards are set and then our team working on that also - someone does a briefing for xxx and then someone else does one for industry and...so we'll think about, think about if our policy is alright or should this policy be modified slightly. And I think something coming from the TAED, it's not that necessarily the Commission is more likely to agree with it, but you know, with a formalized paper coming from the EU and the US -

Y - It carries weight.

X - Yes. It would seem to be the considered view of a number of people who we in part fund and we have a community for which we take seriously what they say, an you know again, it's just points of influence in the policy making process. People don't sort of sit at their desks pouring over on a daily basis, but then we have a big NGO meeting on the 19th of April, which you might be interested in. Yea, well this is with Lamy and this is our trade dialogue with NGO contribution so you might want to see how that operates because I mean I for one, before I trot down to the meeting, will read through the TAED statement because it will give me an indication of what some of the people who have been going to the talks, what they're thinking about. So it all sort of adds up.

Y - The US does not give written responses because it seems to be too complicated. I don't think it's easier for us. When we discussed how in formal terms we'd react or interact with the dialogues, we agreed that each side would be in charge of their own outreach back to their own side of the dialogue. And obviously as we encourage these people to come to an official joint position on their part, then we must have an official reply from our side. And that is indeed something which we have been trying to get across at times - the environment dialogue didn't feel that ...although they welcomed that response...though this is time consuming, the inter-agencey process and NGOs often seem to think we can give a rapid reply ...so they kind of underestimate the level of "I can't decide xxx, well by the way, I think you're right or I think you're wrong." Individual officials cannot simply give an off the cuff response - but that the response is formal and is a formal position. I could, I could, but it's meaningless because it doesn't commit us. To get something down in writing is a level of commitment which is one level further...

X - From a purely selfish administrative point of view, my view is that it is silly...I mean I suppose when we were agreeing on our answer - and again, I don't why I keep thinking of standards - but I do remember there was a long exchange between DG trade and DG environment on response to a couple paragraphs and not because there was this huge gulf between us but because there was wording here and there. I mean, broadly speaking, there was agreement, but anyway - the amount of time and effort expended on agreeing on those two paragraphs - the added value to the NGOs was in my view not proportionate. I also think it waters down perhaps some of what we've been saying because individual officials may be prepared to go further politically and then try to sway their colleagues back homeward. The Commission may be prepared to go further but isn't necessarily turning the party lines as the member states are concerned or the Commission is not wishing to be as ambitious as the members states, so no paper record is ever going to really sum up the richness of the debate that we are having and it may in fact at times reflect a rather bland sort of standard line and of course policy develops, but until you have X piece of legislation or a formal communication, your policy is only what it was last time formally. So with us for example, we are about to launch a new agenda for the trade round tomorrow say, which is environment or bust, you know, everything is going to be bright green or there's no trade round. Well then that's our formal position and we can therefore reflect that. The next time we write back formally to the TAED on trade and environment, they are pretty much getting exactly what they got last time whereas in discussion of course you can say pretty well, I can tell you formally, write it down if you want, but this is a work in progress and you can give a better indication of the evolution of thinking which is what people, especially in the environment which moves so slowly, want to see. So written statements are actually - on the other hand, I think Julia's right, I think it's xxx that we do it because it can at least demonstrate commitment to tell them what we formally and officially think but it's really more than that -

Y - It's part of the ongoing relationship because it gives us a big advantage. I mean the advantage for the NGOs is access...and likewise we have direct access to their written statement ...input, a lot of input, into their own renovations....

What makes certain NGO demands more legitimate than others?

X - NGOs tend to be more radical, they come with a different background and they want results now -the dialogue is a formal process where the government wants to listen. When NGOs phrase their recommendations in a demanding fashion and seem to put on the pressure, it makes hard to respond, but in a way it also lets us off the hook. I could for example, if someone walks into my room and says "I want to stop the new rounds. I don't believe in free trade and why haven't you done blah," well I can say, "Come on mate, the real world is," and I wouldn't question. Whereas if they walk in and say "look I know that there's going to be a new round, I'm not very enthusiastic about it, but why don't you seek to modify article 20 section B on exceptions to the environment by using the following words," well that's a very good constructive idea which is rather harder to ignore. So in a way, I'm not sure if it makes it harder for governments to respond, I think it makes it easier for government to get out away without giving a good response. But I think also, you're right, in reading these things xxx toned down a bit which is not ultimately useful to have grand stand politics (this sort of we demand, etc). But of course NGOs have got a very delicate line to tread because on the one hand they want constructive dialogue with us and if they start to shout, we won't listen. On the other hand, legitimately, they wish to say to their public audience, the people that pay to keep them going, to be radical. You know, people don't pay to join Greenpeace so that Greenpeace can come and say, "why don't you change article 20 section B." Greenpeace... So NGOs have a public audience to satisfy and I think that makes it harder and they've had conflict internally and I don't know if there's much within the TAED, but within the example of the environment community, there's a very big split about what they should do in relation to the trade round which has been the big thing this year and lots of them tend to be very anti-WTO stand in public and in private discussion whereas a lot of them who are more pragmatic and are criticized by their NGO colleagues for being so, an in bed with the enemy sort of thing. So I think you're always going to have that, I think. I don't see why the TAED would be any different to NGOs, you know, more broadly. And I think this is not...but I suppose, if there are others...I'll just skip through the "we demand, we urge, blah blah" and cut to the chase.

Y - I don't think it really matters. We all, we understand why they do it, they understand why we do things sometimes. People nonetheless have to do things for their own audiences, you know, the same way as, not so much the Commission, but an actual government, you have an action which is sometimes designating something else but having another audience in mind. I don't think that negatively affects the relationship. I mean you've got to remember that process is also very important and bringing people into contact......

X - I think that's actually right and I think for those who have read the xxx of NGOs, it doesn't make any a difference in my mind this "we urge." Probably Ron Kingham is not going to storm in with a pistol or anything. Where it might not be helpful is that my colleagues in pure trade policy don't really have much to do, have much of an image of this sort of venture. It's not going to change their mind, but I mean, maybe, I don't know. Those who wish to take NGOs seriously will and those who don't will use this against them.

Y - I mean, it could slightly...pressure...hiding the concrete objection. But I think that's......that process is now being accepted...step by step in the dialogue

What common goals do NGOs and governments both have within this dialogue?

X - I happen to share a number of the broad views that the NGOs are promoting. I think the dialogue is successful in that some of my colleagues who might not otherwise be terribly interested in listening to this, so that's a start. Of course that's a sort of unambitious measure of success, but if you're a policy maker then that's how you measure things. If I was sort of all out for something radical to happen by yesterday, I'd say no, and I think some of the NGOs often find it disappointing because that's where they come from. They are unlikely to be patient and they want action and the goal and government just drags its feet for all sorts of perfectly legitimate reasons, particularly one as complicated as ours when you've got fifteen member states on the xxx. So I think it has been a successful start in terms of, you know back to something we said before about attitude shifting and slow sort of impact of this and the other thing say...agenda. I think, yes it has. Well I think there are too many areas where it's not been successful - one is on our side because of, I don't know, quite honestly, ...some people...some policy officials believe that what they do is right and NGOs, particularly in trade, they're not our classic allies. So if Coca-cola Schweppes came in saying X is a good idea, your average trade policy official's probably more inclined to listen than if the World Wildlife Fund came in with a brain wave. That is changing so I think it's partly not successful because people here don't actually yet fully want to stop. On the NGO side, I think it's not been legitimately xxx about society but on the administrative side they have a few things to learn. You cannot invite a Commissioner to come and speak two or three...for example, the statement that they produced was hard for us to respond to not just because it was long, but it was so wide ranging. It took everything from global economic relations to a specific point. Now specific points are what we really need. Broadly, in dialogue, we want to understand the political context in which the NGOs are working, but when it really comes down to it, we want specific suggestions, not such a, call it something IMF and the World Bank we would get in the trade and environment section where there's nothing we can particularly do about it. So I think they need to be more focused and the other thing which Julia mentioned before is, and we've both agreed, presenting with a paper and specific proposals, I mean just phrase in focus again...but I think it it's going to be really successful, that's the direction it's got to move - that's not to say that it's not been successful so far, but that's probably, would be the direction it's got to move in.

Y - If anything...officials have been pleased with the kind of launch the environment dialogue has had. We feel that it's well and truly established. I think the next question is what they do next...

Documents du TAED, documents et communications des gouvernements, documents et courriers des ONG et dossier de presse : non communiqués (voir version papier)


RESUME

Le TAED : En mai 1999, le dialogue transatlantique sur l'environnement, une consultation entre organisations non-gouvernementales (ONG) et responsables gouvernementales de l'Europe et des Etats-Unis, est officiellement reconnu.

Suite aux autres dialogues avec les entreprises et les consommateurs, le TAED fait partie d'un Nouvel Agenda Transatlantique (NTA) instauré par le gouvernement américain et la Commission Européenne pour consulter des différentes voix de la société civile sur les thèmes de commerce.

Les ONG environnementales visent à une meilleure protection de l'environnement grâce à cette occasion d'avoir une influence directe sur les politiques et les mesures des gouvernements. Cependant, les gouvernements sont tenus par un processus décisionnel qui leur obligent de prendre en compte les revendications de chaque groupe en formulant leurs positions nationales. Un des buts du dialogue est une meilleure compréhension des positions de chaque acteur (ONG américaines et européennes, gouvernement américain, Commission Européenne). Qu'est-ce qui oriente et gouverne l'entrée en relation et le développement de ces relations pour chaque acteur, comment utilisent-ils ces relations pour progresser vers leurs objectifs stratégiques respectifs ? On va regarder de près le sens du dialogue pour chacun des quatre acteurs pour cibler son utilité et faire des hypothèses sur son évolution.

Les politiques sur l'environnement et sur le commerce sont traditionnellement décidées en consultation avec de nombreuses agences des gouvernements américains et européens où l'agence qui se spécialise sur le commerce est souvent en premier. En ce qui concerne les politiques publiques et le processus décisionnel auquel les responsables gouvernementales sont tenus, quelle utilité représente un tel dialogue ? Le TAED présente des déclarations de consensus d'un nombre d'important d'ONG environnementale, un groupe qui était marqué, traditionnellement, par les divisions sur de nombreuses questions. Les gouvernements semblent vouloir alléger le déluge des exigences qui doivent être compris dans un équilibre parfait. Il ne faut pas oublier non plus que le TAED ne représente qu'un des dialogues du NTA. Si les ONG environnementales peuvent se mettre d'accord sur une problématique, peut-on attendre à un dialogue entre les dialogues ? À une procédure qui déplace le stresse des exigences de la société civile sur les revendicateurs eux-mêmes ?

Nous allons traité ces questions par des thèmes d'actualité tels que l'inclusion du Sud et le traitement différent des entreprises pour voir comment les natures des ONG et des responsables gouvernementales vont s'équilibrer ou non avec leurs propres évolutions qui sont liées à un dialogue formel en train de changer la façon traditionnelle de construire l'agenda systémique des problèmes à traiter dans la formation des politiques.


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