Time to Overcome TTIP’s Many Informational Asymmetries

von Alberto Alemanno

Over the centuries, the negotiation of international agreements, in particular trade agreements, has traditionally remained highly confidential and sheltered from public attention. Up until today, parties to these agreements typically invoke confidentiality so as to preserve tactical decisions and build mutual trust. Yet the negotiations of a ‘new generation’ of trade agreements, such the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), or the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), have prompted civil society to increasingly question their ‘behind-the-door’ nature. Given the wider scope of policy areas covered by these trade agreements and their rather intrusive approach to domestic regulatory autonomy, the interests at stake are not only broader than in previous trade agreements but also of constitutional significance, affecting private companies, civil society organisations, individual citizens as well as third party States. As a result, the democratic accountability of their negotiations as well as outcomes are increasingly questioned today.

The rationale pursued by the claim for greater transparency is to guarantee an equal access and representation of the many interests affected by the proposed agreements. When compared with previous, traditional trade negotiations, considerable efforts have been made, notably in the framework of TTIP, by the EU (not by the United States) to improve communication about those negotiations and consultation with different interested stakeholders. This rather sudden policy change is driven not only by the increased salience of TTIP negotiations with public opinion, but also by the European Parliament’s deadly vote in the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) ...

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