Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Transparency and Access

The European Movement International welcomes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for the positive impact it will bring to both the European economy and job market, but not at any cost: only if the concerns of all stakeholders are thoroughly and openly recognized and addressed, does the TTIP stand a chance of succeeding. A successful model for upcoming negotiation rounds should therefore take the following into account:

Increase Transparency
Key to achieving TTIP, and the resulting economic benefits, is transparency. The European Commission increasingly seems to recognise the importance of involving stakeholders in the negotiations, and has released a strategy for public consultation, published its negotiation mandate, and negotiated access to confidential TTIP documents for all MEPs. However, the insistence on the confidentiality of the negotiation process by the European Commission still leads to disagreement with NGOs, CSOs, MEPs and national members of parliament. The European Commission should increase transparency even further by:

Including more detailed information on the content of the TTIP in the public documents on the state of negotiations;

Publishing regularly updated lists of both stakeholder meetings and the negotiation documents which circulate, stating who has been granted access to these documents.

Greater Accessibility for CSOs and NGOs
With the overrepresentation of business interests on the side of both US and EU negotiation teams , it seems that the European Commission is still misunderstanding the concept of stakeholders and the need for a truly transparent discussion. The European Movement thus calls for:

The EC to continue with the positive steps already taken in the area of transparency and citizens’ involvement, by further engaging in civil dialogue and open consultations at every stage of the negotiation talks;

Full involvement of the TTIP Advisory Group, to an extent that would satisfy the expectations of civil society, and give the Advisory Group unrestricted access to the documents;

The negotiation teams to take into consideration the concerns that repeatedly arise in debates amongst NGOs, CSOs, consumer groups and labour organisations, and to ensure that they are well represented at the negotiation table.

European Parliament as Watchdog
The European Movement also encourages the European Parliament to further pursue its involvement in the TTIP negotiations and contribute to its watchdog role, supervising the process of recognising concerns and incorporating relevant amendments. The access to TTIP documents granted to all MEPs will strengthen the European Parliament in the execution of this role.

Consumer and Environmental Standards
The European Movement calls upon the European Commission to ensure that the agreement safeguards the highest environmental and consumer standards already in place (and no matter on which side of the Atlantic), which includes environmental standards; banking, product and food standards; labour standards, wages and consumer protection; data flows and data protection; regulation of emerging technologies; public procurement and the reference to international standards.

Impact of TTIP outside the European Union
The impact of TTIP on those outside of the European Union should also be taken into account. It can be expected that TTIP will have a profound impact on the economies of the European candidate and potential candidate countries, as well as on that of the EFTA countries: either negatively through trade diversion, or positively, as current or new members of the European internal market. As these countries are absent from the negotiation table, the European Movement calls upon the European Union negotiation team to pay particular attention to the effects of TTIP on these countries and to include their opinions in the EU position.


Background
The negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and United States were launched in July 2013. Despite the high expectations regarding economic benefits for both the EU and US, unprecedented levels of public and media interest have made the negotiations subject to huge public scrutiny. Major objections against the Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement mechanism have been raised, as well as against the confidentiality of negotiations, and fears have been voiced that the EU is not strong enough to negotiate with the US and that as a result, the TTIP might undermine EU standards.

EMI’s work on TTIP
To address the concerns raised by CSOs regarding the TTIP negotiations, the European Movement International organised two cycles of TTIP debates in 2014. The debates engaged a variety of stakeholders in order to approach the TTIP from different angles, and thus create an environment for a balanced, yet diverse discussion. In January 2015 the EMI also organised a TTIP briefing alongside with EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, who had launched public consultations concerning transparency in TTIP negotiations. The EMI will hold its next debate on TTIP on 17 March 2016 in Brussels.

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