European Parliament votes for fake openness in TTIP / TAFTA

(Updated) The European Parliament adopted a resolution on EU trade and investment negotiations with the United States of America. All amendments to the resolution were rejected, and with this all amendments were rejected that asked for real openness, or asked for leaving investor to state dispute settlement out, or would have made an improvement on the paragraph on intellectual property rights.

This is a bad development. The United States informs companies and business associations. The Commission gives more information to companies and business associations than to citizens. This creates a real risk that the negotiations will lead to a substandard and biased result.

See also:
TAFTA: First Step Towards a Super-ACTA

Pre vote blog:

The draft European Parliament resolution on EU trade and investment negotiations with the United States of America aims for fake openness. Paragraph 21 of the draft resolution recalls the need for continuous and transparent engagement by the Commission with a wide range of stakeholders. I have visited some Civil Society Dialogues organised by the Commission. The Commission just states there are no problems and, sorry, as trade negotiations are secret, they can give no details. A masochist may find such meetings rewarding.

Civil society organisations want access to draft negotiation texts, at least for regulatory aspects. Companies have access, the Commission discriminates against citizens, while access is a human right. See the FFII letter to European Parliament Trade committee; see also KEI comments.

The fake openness paragraph comes from a compromise amendment in the International Trade committee, supported by a majority of groups in the parliament.

Real openness is an uphill battle. There are some amendments stressing the need for real openness (for instance amendments 10, 22, 26, and 36 and 37).

(See the parliament’s info page, at the bottom, subject: Trade, click show amendments.)

Investor to state dispute settlement

Investor to state dispute settlement creates a real risk to democracy, human rights, the public interest and our ability to solve financial crises. See the FFII letter to European Parliament Trade committee.

Some amendments call on the Council to exclude investor-to-state dispute settlement from the negotiating mandate (amendments 15, 21 and 29).

Copyright and patents

Paragraph 12 of the draft resolution stresses that intellectual property is one of the driving forces of innovation and creation and a pillar of the knowledge-based economy. It fails to stress that exclusive rights on knowledge and culture also hamper access to knowledge and culture, health, food security, innovation and diffusion of green technology. It fails to stress that limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights are essential for innovation. Paragraph 12 also stresses that the agreement should include strong protection of precisely and clearly defined areas of intellectual property rights, but does not define which areas. Amendment 30 offers (some) improvement.

Debate Wednesday (point 92) afternoon or evening, vote Thursday noon.

Citizens may like to contact their MEP on these and other issues.