All Members of the European Parliament will have access to all categories of confidential documents relating to the EU’s Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) talks with the USA, under a European Parliament/European Commission agreement approved by the College of Commissioners on Wednesday. The accessible documents will include the so-called “consolidated texts”, which reflect the US position.
“Eleven months of negotiations with the Commission have paid off. The result is a big win for the European Parliament – all MEPs will now be able to exercise their duty of democratic scrutiny of the TTIP talks”, said the Parliament’s Trade Committee chair Bernd Lange (S&D,DE), who led the negotiations. “The access conditions we have agreed on will increase the transparency of the TTIP process significantly. What we have achieved today will also set a precedent for the transparency of future trade talks”, he added.
MEPs will be able to read the “consolidated texts” in a secure reading room at the European Parliament, take handwritten notes and use the information as a basis for their political actions .
The agreement nonetheless ensures that the confidential nature of this information is not compromised , so as to protect EU interests and avoid weakening the EU's negotiating position. MEPs’ “comprehensive access” will be subject to the security rules governing access to confidential documents.
Background: pressure for access
As a result of pressure from the European Parliament, the European public and the EU Ombudsman, the European Commission introduced a "transparency initiative", during the TTIP talks, which made an unprecedented number of documents available to the public, with most of the documents being regularly published on http://ec.europa.eu/trade/ttip-texts.
However, only a limited number of MEPs (around 30) have until today been able to access TTIP consolidated documents classified as EU-restricted, due to their sensitivity for the EU and the US – the so called “consolidated texts” reflecting the draft compromises between the EU and the US.
This is the first time that a Framework Agreement with the Commission has enabled all Members of the European Parliament to follow the negotiations of an international agreement.