European Council declassifies TTIP trade negotiation document

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS

- Last updated on GMT

European Council declassifies TTIP trade negotiation document

Related tags Member states European union

The Council of the European Union has published the negotiating directives for EU-US trade talks (TTIP) after months of criticism from NGOs and campaigners over an alleged lack of transparency.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiation document​ was classified as EU Restricted, meaning it was deemed to contain “information whose unauthorised disclosure could be disadvantageous to the interests of the European Union or of one or more of its Member States”​.

Following publication in June 2013, the document was rapidly leaked so has been freely available online, but only the Council could take the decision to officially declassify it.

It outlines European priorities for the negotiations, including enhancing European Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) for food and opening up of US public tenders to European companies. The document also states that the trade agreement should not prevent the EU or its member states from implementing “measures necessary to pursue legitimate public policy objectives”​, such as those related to public health.

A main aim of the negotiations is to harmonise EU and US standards and regulation on food and consumer product safety, environmental protections, and many other areas of public policy, in an effort to facilitate free trade. Advocates say the deal could create jobs and bring economic gains for both sides.

However, critics have said the deal is too pro-business in its aims to provide investment protection for multinational companies, and that it may undermine EU standards on agriculture and food.

European Commissioner Karel de Gucht welcomed the move to publish the document on Thursday, saying: 'I'm delighted EU governments have chosen today to make the TTIP negotiating mandate public – something I've been encouraging them to do for a long time. It further underlines our commitment to transparency as we pursue the negotiations.”

The European Commission is negotiating the agreement, consulting governments, MEPs and organisations throughout the process. Talks started in July 2013 and seven rounds of negotiations have been completed so far.

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