The text of the TTIP will not be published
A consultative meeting concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP) has recently taken place in the polish Ministry of Economy.
Representatives of the Modern Poland Foundation) participated in this meeting as well in the hope that the Ministry of Economy, in response to our request for public information, would present related documents. Other participants of this meeting were guests from the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Ministry of Administration and Digitization and representatives of the European Commission in Warsaw. Such representation of the authorities indicates how great importance they attach to this matter. However, this meeting has not resulted in any specific information.
- I am glad some documents were leaked. Thanks to that it is possible to discuss them – stated Ewa Synowiec, head of the European Commission’s office in Poland. In this specific way, she has touched upon the problem connected with the ongoing negotiations – consultations and discussions are conducted without the access to vital documents, position papers and, above all, the proposed text of the treaty, and the texts which are informally made available to the public, cannot be a subject of the formal consultation and discussion. In other words, we are playing blind man’s buff here – but the one with peeping.
The attendees of the meeting were assured that the text of the treaty, even the tentative one, does not exist yet, while the documents related with the European Commission’s negotiations are classified. Their confidentiality is explained by the necessity to keep the negotiating position secret from the Americans (which would have taken place if these documents had been made available to citizens) and by the American disconsent to disclosure of these documents.
The suggestion to reveal only documents already known to the American party due to the completed four rounds of the negotiations, was tacitly supported by the representative of the Ministry of Culture, Karol Kościński. However, no promises have been made.
During the meeting, the Foundation’s representatives emphasised the key problems connected with the way TTIP is worked on and the range of the treaty:
1. International treaties take precedence over national regulations, therefore their drafting procedures should be public. Currently, signing the treaty is the best way to implement regulations outside the democratic process and without the social control. The only solution to this problem is a fundamental, structural change of the treaty making process to make it a transparent, democratic and deliberative one.
2. One of the negotiated subjects is foundation of courts for the disputes between the investors and countries (ISDS – Investor-state dispute settlement): corporations would be able to demand compensation for, e.g. regulations which limit their profits. Such solutions would be destructive for the future democratic law-making, because employers would make decisions based on the possibility of compensation, and therefore such decisions would not be fully autonomous.
3. Implementation of new sanctions and restrictions is not the greatest fear bound to TTIP. The real threat is rather petrification of the current legal system, locking it in such way as to make the positive changes impossible. An example of a treaty, which similarly affects the European and Polish legal system is TRIPS – the treaty to harmonise regulations related with copyright and other intellectual monopolies. Its termination would be equal leaving the World Trade Organisation, while changing it requires all parties’ consent and therefore is which is practically impossible. Unfortunately, if TTIP covers the issues of the intangible property rights or even a wide range of the state’s responsibility linked with ISDS procedure, the same thing will happen. In this sense, the governmental assurance that ‘the issue of sanctions for copyright infringement has been excluded’ or ‘the issue of data protection has been excluded’ are not enough, because the real problem is raising the standards of protection and the rights of citizens, not maintaining its today’s low level. Additionally, such statements are hard to verify, because… the documents are inaccessible.
The European Commission representative invited the attendees to the coming consultative meetings, probably with the EU negotiators themselves, however she did not promise that we would be able to talk about any other topics than the Commission’s advertising materials and its speculations. Simultaneously, both the European Commission and the Ministry of Economy has declared that they constantly meet with chosen representatives of different industry branches and lobbies, which does not look good from the perspective of non-governmental organisations dealing with the watchdog activities: who represented the citizens there?
Therefore, we have concluded meeting with a suggestion to arrange a meeting after the publication of the key documents. In case someone is interested in the already leaked out documents, we strongly recommend reading the draft from last year published by Die Zeit and the Commission’s position released by the Green Party.
Translated by Marta Nożyńska