‘People have a right to know what is at stake’
As the 5th round of negotiations on the US/EU free trade agreement kicks off in the US, 250 organisations, including from the UK, have today sent a joint letter to EU Trade Commissioner, Karel de Gucht, demanding transparency in this massive but secretive deal.
The letter, signed by a broad range of consumer, union, environment and other organisations calls for negotiating texts for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to be released to the public, as well as information on ‘who is lobbying who’ in relation to the deal.
Although there is some talk of the Commission releasing its negotiating mandate (which was leaked a year ago), the actual offers being made on behalf of 850 million people are still secret, with the intention to keep the negotiating texts secret until TTIP negotiations are complete.
The main thrust of TTIP is ‘harmonising’ the regulations of the US and the EU – across all areas. There are big differences between the EU and US in health and safety regulatory protection. Thus civil society groups are concerned that standards e.g. on food and chemical safety, data protection and public service models, will be degraded - with this happening behind closed doors.
‘It’s absolutely unacceptable that key TTIP documents are not only being kept from the public, but that MPs are not allowed to know what is going forward in this supposed ‘trade’ deal either. This joint statement shows the breadth of resistance to this secrecy’ according to Linda Kaucher of StopTTIP uk.
This deal will allow corporations to sue governments for varying regulations after commitments are made and signed up. Yet the commitments being made are being kept secret.
The organisations are therefore calling for step-by-step release of the negotiating texts, in all chapters of the agreement, and also of records of the lobbying meetings that have taken place for this corporate-agenda deal. Their letter references EU commitments to ‘right-to-know’ and to promoting public participation in the Aarhus Convention.
Joint letter to Trade Commissioner calling for transparency:
Contact: Linda Kaucher for StopTTIP uk 0207 265 9307, 0777 043 5321 Website stopTTIP.net