The European Commission last week published a number of documents setting out proposals for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) it is negotiating with the US.
Negotiators had come under pressure from the public over the previously secret nature of the negotiations that many believe would cede even more power to multinational corporations and undermine democracy. Even under current trade rules governments appear powerless to collect equitable levels of taxes from some of the corporations operating on the territories seemingly under those governments’ control.
Protesters in the UK were attacked because it was claimed that they did not understand the treaty; so releasing more information about it should go some way to addressing that problem.
“I’m delighted that we can start the New Year by clearly demonstrating through our actions the commitment we made to greater transparency just over a month ago,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in a statement posted on a Commission website. “Today’s publication of our specific legal proposals in the context of TTIP marks another first in EU trade policy.”
The statement went on to say that the so-called ‘textual proposals’ being published set out the EU’s specific proposals for legal text that has been tabled in the proposed TTIP. ‘They set out actual language and binding commitments which the EU would like to see in the parts of the agreement covering regulatory and rules issues,’ it said. ‘The eight EU textual proposals cover competition, food safety and animal and plant health, customs issues, technical barriers to trade, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and government-to-government dispute settlement (GGDS, not to be confused with ISDS). Today, the Commission has also published TTIP position papers explaining the EU’s approach on engineering, vehicles, and sustainable development, bringing the total number of position papers it has made public up to 15.’
The Commission reference to ISDS, or Investor-state Dispute Settlements, was presumably made to assuage the fears of those who believe that these instruments are used, for instance, by large corporations to force governments of small nations to act in ways that the corporations see as being not detrimental to their businesses but the governments see as undermining health or environmental policies.
‘To make the online documents more accessible to the non-expert, the Commission is also publishing a ‘Reader’s Guide’, explaining what each text means,’ the statement said. ‘It is also issuing a glossary of terms and acronyms, and a series of factsheets setting out in plain language what is at stake in each chapter of TTIP and what the EU’s aims are in each area.’
“I’m particularly pleased that we’re including explanations in non-technical language to go alongside the legal texts,” said Malmström. “It’s important that everyone can see and understand what we’re proposing in TTIP and – just as importantly – what we’re not.”
‘Although today’s publication is the first time the Commission has published specific EU legal proposals while negotiating a bilateral trade agreement, it has already posted numerous documents online setting out its position in TTIP on a wide range of issues,’ the statement said. ‘In line with its determination to make EU trade policy more transparent, the Commission intends to publish further texts and proposals in the course of the negotiations, as they become available.’
The following is a link to the texts published today: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/ttip-texts/