open access

Abstract

The paper analyses the pattern and background of transatlantic trade disputes where the US and Canada have challenged EU health, environmental or animal welfare. It shows that, in principle, the EU maintains stricter (or arguably higher) standards in these areas, partly due to some historic events or societal characteristics which make Europeans more risk averse, and partly due to the nature of the EU supranational regulatory process. The paper examines whether and how the currently negotiated agreements, CETA and TTIP, could address this regulatory divergence. It argues that the regulatory dif-ferences  which  reflect  the  different values  of  two  constituencies  are worth  maintaining  so  as to  foster  pluralism,  diversity,  experimentation and democracy. In contrast, regulatory differences caused by the mere fact that regulators work independently of one another should be eliminated so as to achieve the benefits of greater trade libera lisation.