February 11, 2015

Eva Kaili raises questions about access to TTIP documents in the age of the Lisbon Treaty

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Eva Kaili (S&D) from Greece asks the European Commission (under rule 130):

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and potential areas of conflict with the Lisbon Treaty

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (hereinafter TTIP) is a comprehensive free trade and investment agreement, which is currently being negotiated — behind closed doors — between the European Union and the US.

In particular, all TTIP negotiations are swathed in secrecy, since the Commission is imposing the most stringent restrictions on the more important documents.

In response to great pressure from MEPs, the Commission has stated that Member States and selected MEPs — those who handle the relevant issues — may have some access to the EU negotiating documents, but only in designated reading (reading rooms), and the photocopying or photographing of documents will not be permitted.

The Court of Justice has already issued two important decisions — on 26 June 2014 and 3 July 2014 — essentially criticising the lack of transparency and information in the negotiations.

Under Article 218 of the EU Treaty (Treaty of Lisbon) and on the basis of the precautionary principle, will the Commission say:
(a) Is the procedure being adopted in this instance in accordance with Article 218 TEU?
(b) Is this essentially a case of the unauthorised modification of a core area of European law?
(c) Does the minimum amount of time set aside for access to and scrutiny of the relevant documents undermine the role of the European Parliament and the Commission?

At another publication I did cast light on the Lisbon treaty implementation gap concerning access to documents regulation. Here the ball is in the court of member states to adopt a first reading position and as a result of the pending dossier TTIP transparency is affected.

I am curious what the Commission will answer about the 218 procedure and what the Greek representative meant by “unauthorised modification of a core area”, probably the transparency provisions. The fact is that the transparency agreements with third nations are not governed by the 218 process, rather customary rules of diplomatic communications. It is right to ask if the Commission has sufficient competence for that.