TTIP is bad, CETA is not quite as bad, but still… And the EU-Japan EPA/FTA is…The what?

The EU and Japan are on the final stretch of their negotiations of their new Free Trade Agreement. An agreement I personally did not know was about to be finalised. I only became aware of it through a article by Reuters. An online search only gave me meager results, mostly publications by the European Commission and some economics news papers. While it should not surprise anyone that the EU is seeking to reduce trade barriers on a global scale, the fact that there are hardly any reports concerning the negotiations should be surprising.

Since the start of the TTIP negotiations the free trade agreement had to face stark criticism, especially due to the lack of transparency during the negotiations. This secrecy certainly had a massive impact on public opinion on the matter and is partially to blame for the current stalemate. But the biggest concern of the population was that the negotiations would lead to settling on the lowest common denominator, thus compromising the established standards in the EU, mostly regarding to environmental and food standards. Justified or not, these fears and the growing opposition caused a severe and lasting damage to the project.

The question is, why does the EU/Japan FTA not face similar criticism? Why did this mostly go unreported? This FTA is also a project of a large scale and the topics that need compromise are also largely the same. There must be consensus about food safety regulations, environmental standards, social standards as well as rules of competition. It is also noteworthy that the negotiations were done behind closed doors, there still is not much information about the contents of the agreement to be found. Where is the criticism?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is another Trade Agreement and includes Japan, the USA as well as 10 other countries. The agreement has already been signed by the parties but still needs to be ratified by most of the members. If this agreement is in effect, doesn’t that also mean that the standards between the TPP and the EU/Japan FTA will overlap, so that they will be compatible? I simply feel rather uninformed about that matter. I have a feeling that a FTA with Japan and in extension the USA will bypass the TTIP. This is likely wrong of me to assume since my economic knowledge is rather limited, but I’m lacking the information to educate myself on the matter.

I don’t know why there were almost no reports on the matter but I know that comprehensive reporting by the media would have been desirable.