This policy paper addresses difference in US-EU regulatory policy in connection with food safety and the environment. The authors examine current trans-Atlantic tensions arising out of several areas of domestic regulations on issues surrounding food safety and environmental protection.

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In a previous report in April 2001, Changing Terms of Trade: Managing the New Transatlantic Economy, an Atlantic Council working group noted that as transatlantic economic issues increasingly revolved around matters previously regarded as ‘domestic,’ representatives of domestic interests, including civil society groups, were ever more engaged in the transatlantic policy dialogue. Among many other recommendations, the working group called for the creation of new mechanisms for managing the different attitudes on the two sides of the Atlantic towards public risk and the role of the state. More specifically, the working group recommended that the United States should press for greater clarity on the definition and use of the precautionary principle and called for the establishment of nongovernmental task forces to examine specific issues, such as biotechnology, internet commerce and other regulatory issues that could cause transatlantic frictions.

This report represents the Council’s own response to this recommendation, in the form of the results of a new working group established to address U.S.-EU regulatory policy differences relating to food safety and the environment. The group’s task was to examine current transatlantic tensions arising out of several areas of domestic regulation on issues surrounding food safety and environmental protection, with particular consideration given to the difference in approaches to managing risk. The working group had a broad membership, with representatives from industry, governments, environmental agencies, civil society groups, think tanks and universities. We hope their recommendations will be of use to policy-makers and other interested parties on both sides of the Atlantic.