Answer – Secrecy of TTIP negotiation documents – E-004623/2016

The exchange of letters(1) the Honourable Member refers to, describes existing procedures on both sides for handling sensitive information that will be used during the course of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiation. Neither of the parties is imposing restrictions as regards the timing to keep negotiating documents classified.

The Commission handles all its documents, including the ones related to the TTIP and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations, in accordance with EC law and procedures. The Commission Decision(2) on the security rules for protecting EU classified information sets out clearly that information classified EU Restricted having originated in the Commission will be considered to be automatically declassified, and therefore becomes accessible to the public, after thirty years. As regards the TiSA regime — as well as that of other plurilateral agreements negotiated by the EU — it stems from a more transparent practice applied in the World Trade Organisation context. Both in TTIP and TISA negotiations, the Commission has taken considerable transparency steps and, as a result, has already made publicly available virtually all its textual proposals.

As regards the US handling procedures, indeed, different transparency regimes apply for TiSA and TTIP, and this is a matter beyond Commission’s competence. For the TTIP negotiations, the US follows a more restrictive approach, in which it treats the proposals of its negotiating partner, the EU, as highly confidential.

(1) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/july/tradoc_151621.pdf https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/US%20signed%20conf%20agmt%20letter_0.pdf
(2) The Commission Decision 2015/444 of 13.3.2015 and the proceeding Commission Decision 2001/844 of 29.11.2001.

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