If Europe gets to see FTA text, why can't we?

The Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) and Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC) recently joined with 48 NGOs worldwide (6 from Australia) to call for greater transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  

In a letter, hand delivered to negotiators during the recent Washington Round, we called for Ministers and negotiators to reaffirm their “commitment to fundamental principles of transparency and public participation in rule making.”

It comes in the wake of the European Commission’s recommendations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), including making the EU’s text proposals public and providing broad access to all members of the European Parliament. 

The ADA and ALCC strongly support the calls to release the unbracketed text to allow experts and civil society time to analyse the consequences.  This is particularly important in an area such as intellectual property where the overlapping precedents and agreements mean that single words can have far-reaching and unexpected consequences.

Having missed several past deadlines for conclusion the TPP is still being negotiated, with more rounds scheduled for early in 2015, possibly in Australia. The progress of the IP chapter is unknown, but analysis of the last leak highlighted several areas of concern. 

We hope that the recent moves by the EC and the continual calls for transparency will be helpful to the Senate Committee’s inquiry into the treaty making process.  The committee is accepting submissions until 27 February.