April 12, 2013

Trade agreement with Singapore secret until it enters into force

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Update: Text of trade agreement with Singapore will be published before the summer


(FFII press release) Text also below:

Brussels, 12 April 2013 — The EU Commission decided to keep the trade agreement with Singapore secret until it enters into force. With this decision the Commission betrays European citizens and democracy, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).

In December 2012 EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang completed final negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore. The FFII wanted to analyse whether the text of the agreement is compatible with human rights enshrined in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The FFII noted the Commission had not published the text and asked where it could be found.

EU Trade Spokesperson John Clancy wrote the FFII: “Only if there is a positive ‘yes’ vote by the EP does the agreement come into force and the text becomes ‘legal’ and is published.”

European and Singaporean citizens will not be able to scrutinize the text and provide input to parliaments. It will not be possible to make a human rights impact assessment. Parliaments will not be able to openly discuss the agreement, they will have to adopt or reject a secret text.

FFII analyst Ante Wessels: “The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted down the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) after citizens pointed out it would violate their human rights. This time the Commission hopes to have a ‘better result’ by keeping the text secret until it enters into force. This is nothing less than an assault on democracy. Without democracy, the union becomes an empire led by technocrats, disregarding human rights. The union is entering a dark era.”

Letter EU Trade Spokesperson John Clancy to FFII

“Political negotiations were completed in December 2012 between the Commissioner and the Singapore Minister – the ‘handshake’ moment if you will.

However, there is between 18 months and 2 years of European institutional and democratic process to go through (from translating all the texts into all official EU languages, ‘legal scrubbing’ (checking of the texts by lawyer/linguists), signature of the Council (i.e. the Member States) before the agreed text can go before the European Parliament for a final ‘Yes/No’ vote. Only if there is a positive ‘yes’ vote by the EP does the agreement come into force and the text becomes ‘legal’ and is published.

We only wish – here at the Commission – that the time period could be shorter but it is out of our hands I am afraid.

So, unfortunately the text is not available yet.”


EU and Singapore agree on landmark trade deal (16/12/2012)

FFII trade blog

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Contact and about FFII, see the press release.