Blog: The real reward in TTIP

Marietje
Yesterday, Wikileaks announced it is starting a campaign to crowd fund a 100,000 dollars reward for the person who leaks the text of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP.  The negotiations of this agreement are ongoing between the European Union and the United States. The campaign has already received support from former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. Earlier, Wikileaks started a similar campaign on another trade deal under negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, an agreement between the US and 11 countries around the Pacific Ocean. Thus far, documents on trade agreements have been leaked almost without exception, and without a 100,000 dollar reward for the leaker. Sometimes the fact that there are various leaked versions of a text floating around leads to confusion. In any case, leaks should not substitute transparency and democratic scrutiny. As a Member of the European Parliament I have been working on more transparency in the TTIP negotiations since they started in 2013. My colleague Sophie in 't Veld has also been a leader in the debate about more transparency. I believe the negotiating process needs to be as transparent as possible. So far, we have achieved progress. There are negotiating texts already online (including the negotiating mandate), meetings are open to the public and the Commission is working on outreach to stakeholders across the board. Members of the European Parliament, elected representatives of the European public, have access to negotiating texts, including the so-called 'consolidated texts'. These contain proposals from both the EU and the US' sides. While Wikileaks calls TTIP a 'hyper-secretive' deal, it is the most transparent trade negotiating process the EU has ever conducted. Does that mean we are satisfied? No, more is needed. More texts should be published online, more meetings should be opened to the public and, most of all, we need more commitment from the Americans to also start opening up the process at their end. But it is crucial that we achieve transparency so that a sustainable framework is created in which we can ensure accountability, accessibility and democratic oversight now, but also for future negotiations. At the same time, the very small number of clicks on documents that are available online reveal that people do not just want to have access to information; they want their voices to be heard. I see this myself reflected in the unprecedented number of debates, panels, interviews, articles and other requests I receive every day about TTIP.  The European Commission and Member States Governments should not only 'send' information, it is crucial to actually listen, and proactively engage and inform the public. Any Member of European parliament that has access to the texts under negotiation could theoretically leak. However, WikiLeaks should be very suspicious if someone claims the 100,000 dollars, because there is no TTIP text yet. Unlike the TPP, which is in its final stages, the TTIP negotiations are only getting into in-depth discussions now. There are a few texts that lay out proposals for chapters of TTIP, but none are final. For the moment, it does not look like anyone will be able to claim the reward soon; negotiators are nowhere near a final agreement. I will continue to do what I can to see a good result to the negotiations. A trade deal between the EU and the US that delivers for consumers, an agreement with concrete benefits for SMEs. An agreement that strengthens our position on the world stage, enforces our high standards across the globe and reinforces the global rules based system, which is under pressure. Working towards a good TTIP is my job; for me, the biggest reward would be an end result that works for people!