Responding to mounting public criticism over a lack of transparency in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the U.S., the European Commission earlier this week announced new measures “to address the concerns and to evacuate misperceptions” by ensuring that in future the general public has accurate and full information on the European Union’s intentions in the trade talks.
In a press release, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We could do the best possible work but it will be worth nothing if we do not earn the support and trust of the citizens we are working for. So let us be more transparent, because in fact we have nothing to hide. Let us show that this time it really is different and that together we are able to really change and renew Europe.”
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström stated that the actions boosting transparency were being launched “as part of a ‘fresh start’ on the TTIP” and also re-confirmed her intention to consult more extensively on the trade deal, “so we can show clearly what the negotiations are about and de-mystify them.” The new measures “should help to ensure greater access to trade documents by the general public and the European Parliament, and legitimacy [of] EU trade policy at large,” she said.
The new transparency measures adopted by the Commission include the following commitments:
- Making public more EU negotiating texts that the Commission already shares with member states and the European Parliament.
- Providing access to TTIP texts to all members of the European Parliament, not just a select few, by extending the use of a “reading room” to those MEPs who have had no access to restricted documents so far.
- Classifying fewer TTIP negotiating documents as “EU restricted,” making them more easily accessible to MEPs outside the reading room.
- Publishing and updating on a regular basis a public list of TTIP documents shared with the European Parliament and the Council.
European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, one of the leading public figures that have been demanding greater transparency, welcomed the Commission’s announcement. “I am delighted that the Commission has taken the concerns of citizens, civil society organizations, MEPs and my own office on board to increase TTIP transparency,” O’Reilly said.