Monday

21st Jan 2019

EU commission to publish more trade documents in bid for public support

  • MEPs will get more access to documents relating to EU-US trade talks, the European Commission has pledged (Photo: Jan Albrecht)

The European Commission has pledged to increase the number of documents it makes public relating to ongoing free trade talks with the US in a bid to shore up public support for the negotiations.

The EU executive confirmed on Tuesday that it will make public all negotiating texts on the transatlantic trade and investment pact (TTIP) that are already shared with governments and MEPs, and classify fewer documents "EU restricted".

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

It will also extend access to a 'reading room' for restricted documents to all MEPs.

In a statement on Tuesday (25 November), trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that the extra disclosure would enable the Commission to “show clearly what the negotiations are about and de-mystify them.”

The move is part of a wider transparency exercise by the EU executive. From the start of December, commissioners and senior staff will be required to publish on the Commission's website all contacts and meetings held with stakeholders and lobbyists.

It has also promised to propose a mandatory register for lobbyists working in the three EU institutions.

Critics of TTIP have complained that negotiations are held behind closed doors without records being made public.

An internal memo to the 28 commissioners commented that the new transparency measures were needed to help “win public trust and support for the TTIP”.

However, the publicly available documents will not include the most sensitive documents, including the offers made by the EU to the US on tariffs, services, investment and procurement, which the Commission deems to be “the essence of the confidential part of the negotiations”.

The TTIP is set to be subject to greater scrutiny than any previous free trade deal and the Commission will have to convince a sceptical public if it is to come into force.

Any agreement will have to be backed by the European Parliament, which rejected the anti-counterfeit treaty Acta in 2012 after complaining that the Commission had failed to keep it fully informed of the progress of negotiations.

The transparency move was also welcomed by MEPs, as well as Emily O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman. In July, O’Reilly urged the Commission to increase the number of documents it makes public and to publish records of meetings with lobbyists.

Marietje Schaake, Dutch liberal MEP, said it was an “important step forward”, while French Green MEP Yannick Jadot characterised the move as “baby steps” towards greater transparency, but added that “the devil will be in the detail”.

EU court backs commission on trade secrecy

The EU’s top court has ruled in favour of the European Commission’s right to protect the confidentiality of trade documents, in a move that will frustrate campaign groups seeking greater public access to EU trade negotiations.

EU-US trade talks in 'troubled waters'

EU-US trade talks are “in troubled waters” and need a “fresh start for parliament to approve an agreement”, its trade committee chairman has said.

News in Brief

  1. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  2. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  3. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report
  4. Vestager under pressure to allow Siemens-Alstom deal
  5. Teargas and clashes in Athens over Macedonia name change
  6. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  7. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  8. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden

Agenda

Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK

Germany and France are set to reinforce their alliance as the engine-house of European integration, while Britain continues to struggle to leave the EU.

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us