August 13, 2018

European Commission releases some EU-South Korea trade negotiation documents

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About a year ago I requested documents regarding the negotiations on the EU – South Korea trade agreement, provisionally applied since July 2011 and formally ratified in December 2015. I was especially interested in documents regarding the negotiations on intellectual property rights, specifically the documents regarding criminal enforcement.

On 24 November 2017 the European Commission provided a link to the partially declassified “Recommendation from the Commission to the Council”. The commission did not declassify the interesting part, the directives for the negotiations.

I recently received a list of 15 documents (Annex 1); eight documents are withheld; I received seven partially disclosed documents (zip). I think the list of relevant documents should be longer and it would seem that the commission’s assessment is not in line with its new transparency initiative. For instance, in new negotiations the EU commission publishes mandates, textual proposals, and position papers. Publication of such texts does not harm the public interest as regards international relations. The commission should be more open; I filed a confirmatory application.