TTIP: Access to consolidated texts and confidential documents

12-07-2016

Like other negotiating documents, consolidated texts, which combine the ‘textual proposals’ of parties negotiating an agreement, are normally confidential. The text of an agreement is typically only published once negotiations are complete and the parties have reached agreement on a single text. In response to growing public concern and calls for greater transparency in negotiations, the EU has begun to engage more with civil society on the content of its negotiating objectives. The controversy surrounding talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) prompted the European Commission to publish the textual proposals tabled by the EU in its negotiations with the US. However, the US has not reciprocated, which means that consolidated texts and other documents referring to US positions remain classified. Initially, on the EU side, only officials with a ‘need to know’ and proper accreditation from the Commission or from a national government, as well as a limited number of Members of the European Parliament had access to these documents. However, in late 2015, the EU and the US reached an agreement under which all Members of the European Parliament and all members of the EU Member States’ national parliaments would have access to the consolidated TTIP negotiating documents. For further information on the ongoing TTIP negotiations, see the recent EPRS publication ‘EU-US negotiations on TTIP: A survey of current issues’, by Laura Puccio.

Like other negotiating documents, consolidated texts, which combine the ‘textual proposals’ of parties negotiating an agreement, are normally confidential. The text of an agreement is typically only published once negotiations are complete and the parties have reached agreement on a single text. In response to growing public concern and calls for greater transparency in negotiations, the EU has begun to engage more with civil society on the content of its negotiating objectives. The controversy surrounding talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) prompted the European Commission to publish the textual proposals tabled by the EU in its negotiations with the US. However, the US has not reciprocated, which means that consolidated texts and other documents referring to US positions remain classified. Initially, on the EU side, only officials with a ‘need to know’ and proper accreditation from the Commission or from a national government, as well as a limited number of Members of the European Parliament had access to these documents. However, in late 2015, the EU and the US reached an agreement under which all Members of the European Parliament and all members of the EU Member States’ national parliaments would have access to the consolidated TTIP negotiating documents. For further information on the ongoing TTIP negotiations, see the recent EPRS publication ‘EU-US negotiations on TTIP: A survey of current issues’, by Laura Puccio.