Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, has told EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström that the UK will greatly benefit from closer economic ties with the US, via the proposed EU-US trade and investment agreement Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), but more transparency is needed to help address public concerns.
In a meeting in London yesterday, Vince Cable and UK Trade Minister Lord Livingston asked Commissioner Malmström to give senior UK parliamentarians access to TTIP treaty text as it is developed, so that they can monitor progress and ask questions on the public’s behalf.
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In addition, the UK Government will offer to make other key documents relating to the negotiations progress available to all UK MPs and members of the House of Lords. This will ensure they have the same access as Members of the European Parliament to view EU-authored TTIP negotiating materials.
This new offer of access follows Brussels’ recent move to publish hundreds of pages of previously-restricted material.
Cable said: “I dislike the level of secrecy that has surrounded the transatlantic trade deal so far and can completely understand why some people are worried.
“I have met many campaign groups over the last 9 months to discuss this and taken on board many of their concerns.
“I will be working to ensure all British interests are protected and that the deal can be properly scrutinised.
“Where our interests are not harmed by disclosure, then disclosure must take place. At the moment people in Britain with questions about what is on the negotiating table for TTIP think that Europe and the US have something to hide. This is not the case.
“I have been pushing for as much of the negotiation as possible to be done out in the open.
“We must also clearly demonstrate that the NHS and our public services are protected as a priority.
“The EU has recently given us very strong assurances that TTIP would not in any way endanger them. I want to see that reflected in the treaty drafting.
“As with the NHS, our high standards when it comes to the environment or food are not up for negotiation. If we can recognise mutually high standards with the US we will do so.
“But where we can’t, US businesses will have to raise their game to meet our higher standards, not the other way around.
“I want to tighten up the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause proposed for the treaty.
“Some people fear that investors could sue us for losses and win if the Government takes a decision – on health, the environment or consumer safety – in the wider public interest. We must demonstrate clearly that this could never happen.”
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström met Vince Cable and Lord Livingston while visiting London to discuss the TTIP agreement with political and business leaders and the public.