TTIP : The marginalisation of the European Union citizens

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 5th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1guh47ch/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Politics

The lack of accountability regarding the procedure of negotiations for the TTIP leads inexorably to the marginalisation of the EU citizens. Only by considering this procedure as provided by the TFEU, their absence appears flagrant. Though the European Union Parliament remains a fundamental part, it cannot effectively affect its course.

1/ The appearance of democracy

To fix the process, the European Commission has chosen not to rely on the EU parliament but directly on the civil society. The institution has endeavoured to be as transparent as possible during the negotiations. Before starting the official TTIP discussions it considered the views of potential stakeholders. Since their beginning, it has informed the civil society at every stage, as on 16 July 2013 after the first round of talks1 and also on 18 December 2013 “at the mid-point of the third round”2. The situation may seem satisfying regarding the involvement of the EU citizens in the negotiations procedure. However, appearances are deceptive.

By circumventing the European Union Parliament, the Commission has escaped the legal framework related to inter-institutional relations. It has chosen an area where it can operate freely without any binding accountability. By contrast with the US procedure, the EU institution seems untouchable.
In the US, the Executive and the interested stakeholders are currently advocating for the Congress to grant a Trade Promotion Authority.3 While giving the Executive a broader margin than provided by the Constitution to negotiate a trade treaty, the TPA is always bundled with a number of requirements. For example, it “establishes Congressional requirements for the Administration to notify and consult with Congress, with the private sector and other stakeholders and with the public during the negotiations”.4 There are no such legal requirements for the negotiations in the EU. There, the citizens are out of the legal framework, though still valuably solicited politically.

2/ The secondary role of the European Parliament

The US Congress is truly the decisive body in the matter of treaty making. When the constitutional procedure is respected, the Senate's advice and consent determines whether a treaty may be adopted. When the “fast-track” procedure grounded by the TPA is sought, the Congress notably outlines the objectives of the negotiations and the Executive has no choice but obeying. The EU Parliament on the other side has a secondary role. It is “immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure”5 but it does not give guidance to the Commission on negotiating objectives.6

Although the institutional structure of the European Union is very different from that of the United States, a contrasting consideration of the EU Parliament and the US Congress is still relevant. Indeed, these bodies are the only ones in their respective jurisdiction whose members are directly elected by the citizens (that being the case only for the House in the US). Regarding the situation of these citizens, the Americans are better considered by the law than the Europeans.

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SOURCES

(1) European Commission, ‘Ad hoc meeting - Update on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - First Negotiation Round’ (European Commission>Trade>Trade policy and you>Dialogues>Civil society>Meetings) <http://trade.ec.europa.eu/civilsoc/meetdetails.cfm?meet=11411> accessed 05 January 2014

(2) Office of the United States Trade Representative, ‘Update on the Third Round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations’ (Home › About Us › Press Office › Press Releases › 2013 › December, 19 December 2013) <http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2013/December/Readout-TTIP-third-round-update> accessed 05 January 2014

(3) Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 'TTIP : 2014, a decisive year for the United States' (Wikinut, 11 January 2014) <http://news.wikinut.com/TTIP-%3A-2014%2C-a-decisive-year-for-the-United-States./189d5bll/> accessed 02 February 2014

(4) ‘Trade Promotion Authority’ (What is TPA ?, Office of the United States Trade Representative) <http://www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-promotion-authority> accessed 11 January 2014

(5) Article 218 (10) TFEU : “The European Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure.”
Consolidated versions of the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union OJ C326/01

(6) Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 'Négociations pour le TTIP : la procédure au sein de l’Union européenne' (AgoraVox, 16 August 2013) <http://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/europe/article/negociations-pour-le-ttip-la-139647> accessed 02 February 2014.

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