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02 May 2016

TTIP Leaks: texts shed much needed light on secretive talks

Greenpeace leak of 248 pages of ‘consolidated’ EU-US pages likely to cause headache for negotiators

Simon McKeagney, Editor

Greenpeace Netherlands today released a tranche of top secret documents that shed light on the TTIP negotiations and the difference between the public spin and the private content. The documents, which make up a large part of three and a half years of negotiations, were revealed this morning for trade experts and campaigners to analyse in the coming weeks and months.

What are ‘consolidated’ texts?

Consolidated texts refer to chapters which include agreed language of both the EU and US side. However, where agreement has yet to be reached, each side insert their position in bracketed text, for further negotiation. 

The EU has publicly stated that negotiations have advanced in many areas, with 17 of approximately 35 chapters now at ‘consolidated’ stage. However, the leak reveals that the majority of these chapters are actually marked as ‘consolidation underway’, meaning that most of the language is in brackets, pending agreement from each side.

Only 4 of the 13 leaked consolidated texts have reached the advanced stage. These include the SME chapter, the chapter on competition and on customs facilitation. The EU also appears to be driving the effort to reach consolidated text stage, with many more inclusions in brackets. While both sides remain committed to finalising the deal in 2016, the lack of substantial progress even on consolidated texts, suggests that coming to the ‘end game’ by the end of the year looks doubtful.

Jorgo Riss, director of Greenpeace EU, said: “These leaked documents confirm what we have been saying for a long time: TTIP would put corporations at the centre of policy-making, to the detriment of environment and public health. We have known that the EU position was bad, now we see the US position is even worse. A compromise between the two would be unacceptable.”

‘Confirming our worst fears’

The Green/EFA group have been leading the opposition against TTIP in the European Parliament since 2013, highlighting a range of concerns that have not been addressed by negotiators since the talks first began 13 rounds ago. Commenting on the leaked papers Green trade spokesperson Yannick Jadot MEP said: 

"These leaks confirm our worst fears on TTIP: the US authorities are trying to use the negotiations to undercut EU standards and rules on the protection of consumers, the environment, health and public services and are aggressively pushing the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of the public interest. It had been long suspected that elements of the negotiations, like regulatory convergence, were focused on a downwards harmonisation of existing rules and norms, whittling away higher standards on both sides of the Atlantic; this suspicion has been shown to be justified."

Green trade spokesperson Ska Keller MEP added:

"The European Commission has previously tried to mollify those who raised concerns about TTIP but it needs to stop patronising the legitimate and growing public opposition to an EU-US deal. Now it becomes apparent that the concerns are valid. Our high standards must not be jeopardised by TTIP. We are grateful to Greenpeace and the media for informing citizens about what is really in the negotiations, doing the Commission's job for it."

Now the real analysis can start 

Such access to TTIP content on this scale is unprecedented, and will likely provide a treasure trove of detail to analyse over the coming weeks. Despite the EU Commission’s move to publish more documents since Commissioner Malmström took office, the most relevant texts, such as the consolidated chapters, have remained behind closed doors. The US has also point blank refused to open up the talks on their side, meaning that until now the US positions in particular have been entirely obscured. 

The leak gives the TTIP talks a much needed transparency wake up call, as support for the deal (and in turn the EU institutions) plummets across Europe. Civil society groups say that the leak “spells the end of TTIP”, calling for it to be dropped entirely, before unredeemable damage is done. 

Find the full leak from Greenpeace here.

Watch: Greens/EFA MEPs protest inside the European Parliament for lack of access to TTIP documents, October 2014.

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