Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake, (ALDE/D66) received commitments today from trade commissioner designate, Cecilia Malmström that she would focus on maximum transparency and increasing accessibility of trade negotiations.
Schaake: “I am happy that Malmström shares my concerns. Too much takes place behind closed doors. Because of this, people’s justified concerns cannot be addressed and stakeholders cannot effectively contribute to the process.”
Schaake thinks this is most important in relation to the EU-US trade agreement (TTIP), but she also wants the future trade commissioner to address concerns more broadly with regard to access to information, participation and transparency.
Schaake wants the European Commission to conduct a broad dialogue with all stakeholders in the coming five years on on-going and future trade negotiations. Schaake: “We need to make sure that not only big companies, but also civil society and small and medium size enterprises can contribute to the negotiating process. The positive effects of trade agreements must be felt by European citizens, not only in board rooms.”
Schaake has a lot of questions regarding a controversial aspect of TTIP; the investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS). The public consultation on this aspect received 150,000 replies. Schaake wants those reactions to be processed and made public as soon as possible. She also wants the European Commission to give a clear answer to the question why ISDS is needed at all in TTIP. During the hearing, Malmström indicated that she is not yet convinced of that. “Both the EU and the US have a well-functioning judicial system. I have still not received a comprehensive answer on why this special mechanism is needed,” says Schaake.