Together, the European Union and the US account for roughly half of global GDP. So, a trade deal between the two economic giants makes sense, right? An EU-US trade deal (the so-called “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”) would boost growth and influence trade standards globally. However, critics argue that TTIP will harm democracy and erode environmental, health, food, and employment standards. Still, it’s up to people to make their own minds up, and to this end it’s worth discussing public awareness and the availability of information about TTIP.
Interested to know more about TTIP? We’ve put some of the facts and figures concerning the largest trade deal in history into the infographic below (click for a bigger image):
One of the key criticisms of TTIP is that the negotiations have been too secretive. In fact, we had a comment sent in by Akos suggesting exactly this. Is he right?
To get a response, we spoke to Bernd Lange, a Social Democrat MEP and Chair of the Committee on International Trade:
At the beginning, yes, it was too secretive. And this was one of my main tasks when I took over the job of Chair of the Trade Committee. We were very clear to the Commission that we needed transparency otherwise we couldn’t negotiate any trade agreement. And, it has changed slowly. Now documents are published, and we have a dialogue with civil society. It’s not sufficient, but they are steps in the right direction. I’m totally convinced that without transparency we can’t make any trade deal, because trade deals influence our economic and social life, and therefore transparency is a key condition.
To get another perspective, we also put Akos’ question to Tiziana Beghin, an Italian MEP with the Five Star Movement, and also a member of the Committee on International Trade. What would she say?
They say that the TTIP negotiations are now more transparent, but it’s not true at all. The only thing that has really changed is that, previously, just a few MEPs, like me, could have access certain types of documents and papers. And now all Members of the European Parliament can access the reading room where people can have access to consolidated papers from the EU side. However, although we have the possibility to do that now, we have to do it without a computer, phone, or even a dictionary. So, I can take some notes, but it’s not enough.
The text is only available in English, and it’s a very technical paper. I’m not an expert in each sector that TTIP is talking about. So it is really, really a poor kind of transparency. And I’m not the only one who should have the right to read these papers, but all citizens, NGOs, and experts should have the right to read these papers. In fact, MEPs need these experts to advise us about technical matters. So, this is not transparency.
Have the TTIP negotiations been too secretive? Are the public suitably informed about the EU-US trade deal? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!