Transparency or trade in the TTIP
Since 2013, people in Europe, and especially in Germany, have criticized the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Specifically, they criticize how the results of each negotiation round have been published.
Critics call for more transparency. But more transparency would weaken and compromise the TTIP.
This agreement should result in a free trade agreement between both sides of the Atlantic, and has been negotiated by trade commissioners and politicians of the U.S. and the European Union. During the last two years, there have been many rounds of talks in Brussels and Washington D.C. E.U. trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström recently said that both sides aim to finalize the agreement by 2016.
When the negotiations come to an end during the next one or two years, U.S. and European college graduates can expect huge benefits. The free movement of goods, services, capital and labor are of great importance for younger generations on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Increasing labor mobility is part of the negotiations, and it shows that TTIP will not only add value to our economies but strengthen the values for our Euro-Atlantic partnership,” Jacob Schrot said.
The results of the past nine negotiations rounds were sent to the E.U. trade committee so that politicians could read about the status quo of the agreement in these documents.
Typically, politicians have to visit the European commission’s reading room to get insights of the latest TTIP talk. This regulation has been highly criticized without consideration of the possible consequences of publishing every one of the negotiations details.
This is a lot of information someone should read before calling for even more transparency.
The public can also get information directly from the European Union and view over 60 negotiation texts.
“The agreement should allow as much discretion at the negotiation stage as one would for complex international negotiations involving arms control,” said Irwin Collier from the John F. Kennedy Institute at Freie Universität Berlin.
If the TTIP negotiators would publish all the insights from their rounds, security would become a bigger issue. This is also the reason the U.S. and E.U. trade committees decided to make the document of the 10th round only available in the E.U. commission’s reading room.
Another reason more transparency could harm the finalization of the agreement is security.
“The probability of getting to a yes rapidly approaches zero as the number of parties at the table increases,” Collier said.
By giving even more insights to controversial parts of the agreement, reaching compromise would become more difficult.
As Jacob Schrot, former president of the Young Transatlantic Initiative in Germany, said “the negotiations towards TTIP are the most transparent in the history of free trade agreements.”
Opinion columnist Katharina-Luise Kittler is a public relations exchange student and may be reached at [email protected]