Two hours to get to the truth

by Friederike Rehn and Felix Heilmann

Transparency during the days of TTIPHow much can an MP learn about TTIP in two hours with no auxiliary means or the chance to do some research? The German ministry of trade is starting a trial …

Since the start of our campaign we have criticized that the TTIP negotiations take place behind closed doors that even our elected representatives are not allowed to open. However, change is coming. From 1 February, 2016, onwards, all members of the German Bundestag are allowed to look into the consolidated documents of the TTIP negotiations.

And that is very easy:

The 631 MPs simply have to visit the reading room of the Ministry of Trade – after they signed up a week in advance. Long waiting periods to get a seat in the reading room are not to be expected, given the generous number of 8 available seats in the room that is open for 16 hours per week – of course only during the weeks when parliament is in session. How lucky that all German parliamentarians are commercial and international law experts. Otherwise they might have struggled to understand the texts with no help from electronic devices or the chance to take difficult passages home to do some research. The MPs will surely feel absolutely free to exercise their mandate given the constant presence of security personnel in the room. And should, at any point, the reading of the documents become too difficult for the MPs, the European Commission has measures in place: after two hours the MP has to leave the room again. It would be a shame if anyone would get a headache from these complicated texts.

And in case some MPs are not as excited about this special treatment as they should be, the official document reminds them that by giving them access to the documents “a great confidence is placed on them”.

But jokes aside: Everyone who was hoping for real changes with regard to the transparency of the TTIP negotiations will certainly not be happy with this outcome. In a representative democracy it is the MPs who place confidence in someone and not the other way around. We, for one, will keep campaigning for more access to the content of the secret negotiations.

Original image source: Wikipedia