All MEPs to Have Access to Confidential TTIP Papers
As part of a new agreement with the European Commission, all members of the European Parliament (EP) will have access to all categories of confidential documents relating to the EU’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks with the US.
Access will be granted to papers that would include the so-called “consolidated texts,” reflecting the draft compromises between the EU and the US, and will be subject to the security rules governing access to confidential documents.
The MEPs will be able to read the texts in a secure reading room at the European Parliament and will have permission to take handwritten notes and use the information as a basis for political actions.
Under pressure from the EP, the public and the EU Ombudsman, the Commission already had introduced a “transparency initiative” during the TTIP talks, making available to the public what is said to be an “unprecedented number” of documents. Up to the present, however, only 30 MEPs have been granted access to documents classified as restricted.
“Eleven months of negotiations with the Commission have paid off. The result is a big win for the European Parliament – all MEPs will now be able to exercise their duty of democratic scrutiny of the TTIP talks,” said the Parliament’s Trade Committee chair Bernd Lange, who led the negotiations.
“The access conditions we have agreed on will increase the transparency of the TTIP process significantly. What we have achieved today will also set a precedent for the transparency of future trade talks,” Lange added. It marks the first time a Framework Agreement with the Commission has enabled all MEPs to follow the negotiations of an international agreement.
Concerns over a lack of transparency in the sluggish TTIP negotiations were heightened recently by the release of new documents under the US Freedom of Information Act (FIA) and leaked to the British newspaper The Guardian.
The documents are purported to show that EU authorities gave US oil and petrochemicals giant ExxonMobil access to confidential negotiating strategies regarding unrestricted imports of US crude oil and gas to Europe.
Fossil fuel exports from the US have been banned for 40 years but the policy was relaxed towards Mexico in August of this year. The Guardian said previous leaks of TTIP documents have revealed that the EU is pressing for similar privileges. It added that industry estimates revealed through the FIA show it would cost $100 billion to build the infrastructure necessary to export the fuels.
TTIP opponents said the released information shows “the full degree of collusion” between the EU Commission and multinational corporations seeking to use the treaty to increase US exports of fossil fuels.