Thursday

13th Dec 2018

Germany protests lack of transparency in US trade talks

  • Activists posing as German chancellor Merkel (r) and economy minister Gabriel (l) in front of the Bundestag. MPs do not have access to TTIP documents. (Photo: Die Grünen)

The German government has protested to the US authorities against the lack of access for German MPs to TTIP talks documents.

According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, the German ambassador in Washington was asked by Berlin to notify a formal protest to US trade representative Michael Froman and request that MPs can access documents related to the EU-US negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The ambassador and the US official were due to meet Thursday evening (12 November) in Washington.

The German government wants to address "the public reproach that TTIP is negotiated beyond the reach of parliaments and with disregard for democratic rights," the instruction to the ambassador quoted by the newspaper said.

Last month, the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, protested that members of the parliament did not have access to the documents.

Only 139 German ministry of finance officials were authorised to look at the so called consolidated texts, which gather both EU and US positions on the talks, at the Berlin US embassy, and only for two days a week between 10.00am and 12.00 noon.

'Democratic'

The rules on access to documents were agreed by the EU Commission, which is responsible for the talks in the name of European governments, and US authorities.

While the documents are accessible to all member of Congress in Washington, they are visible only to some MEPs in reading rooms in Brussels. Reading rooms in US embassies were open in member states last spring to alleviate criticism on lack of transparency.

But this is proving insufficient for some governments, as the German protest shows.



In September, French trade minister Mathias Fekl said talks were going on "in a complete lack of transparency and a big opacity."

"This poses a democratic problem," he said, adding that France could leave the talks if no progress was made.

In October, German parliament chief Lammert also warned that there was "no chance that the Bundestag would ratify a trade agreement between the EU and the USA without involvement in how it came together or any say regarding alternatives."

But on 4 November, the European Ombudsman closed a case against the EU Commission over lack of access to TTIP documents.

"The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration by the Commission," her office said.

"Some of the concerns raised by the complainants had already been addressed in the context of the Ombudsman's own-initiative inquiry on the transparency of the TTIP negotiations."

TTIP protesters warn of Trojan Horse

Anti-TTIP demonstrators do not trust European negotiators, who will engage in the 11th round of discussions next week in Miami.

Opinion

How trade deals threaten democracy and climate

If there was any doubt that international trade agreements threatened both democracy and the climate, then thank the TransCanada Corporation for making it clear.

Berlin: 35 square metres of TTIP transparency

German MPs can access the secret texts of the EU-US free trade agreement in a special reading room set up by the ministry of economy under very strict conditions.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary votes to create new court overseen by government
  2. Polish PM calls confidence vote in EU judicial clash
  3. MEPs urge Russia to free Ukrainian prisoners
  4. No renegotiation of Brexit deal, MEPs say
  5. Italy to spend less than EU feared: report
  6. May: new leader would have to delay or rescind Brexit
  7. Brexit chaos as Tory MPs to vote on May's leadership
  8. EU set to spend 3.2 percent more in 2019

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. EU awaits May's future, insists on no renegotiation
  2. Deja vu: Bulgaria pipeline to face EU scrutiny
  3. MEPs and EU staff hid from Strasbourg gunman
  4. 'Trumped Up': The curious case of Babis' conflicts of interest
  5. EU rules out Brexit changes, but could help May
  6. Lead MEP on Morocco resigns as her report passes
  7. UN text not yet ready for ministers, says EU climate czar
  8. Russian propaganda prompts alarm in Ukraine and France

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us