It is important that negotiations are as transparent as possible and include a healthy democratic debate. A transatlantic agreement that is intended to benefit citizens must not be negotiated as though the substance needs to be hidden from the public. There is therefore a need for a clear factual basis on which to discuss the pros and cons of TTIP. The Economic Affairs Ministry has compiled the main assertions and facts (in German), and the most frequently asked questions and answers.
TTIP reading room in the Economic Affairs Ministry
Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel is an advocate of greater transparency in the TTIP negotiations. For example, the Economic Affairs Minister has ensured that, from 1 February 2016, all the members of the Bundestag can see the consolidated negotiating texts, which consist of EU and U.S. proposals for wordings, in a TTIP reading room in the Economic Affairs Ministry. This gives the members of the Bundestag full access to the current state of negotiations. Apart from the members of the Bundestag, the members of the Bundesrat have also enjoyed access to all consolidated texts since 7 March. The staff of the government can also use the reading room. At the end of the TTIP negotiations, the negotiated text will be published online and translated into all of the EU’s official languages. Before a national parliament votes on the agreement, for example, citizens and members of parliament will have plenty of time in which to find out about the agreements between the European Commission and the U.S., and to scrutinise the text.
Dialogue forums and initiatives organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
Since the beginning of the talks, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has been holding regular events to promote dialogue with citizens, NGOs, business associations, and trade unions, to inform them about the state of the negotiations and provide opportunities for objective discussions. The ministry also reports to the Bundestag and the Länder and supplies them with the relevant reports and information.
- TTIP Advisory Group at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
In May 2014, the TTIP Advisory Group, a body set up by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, convened for the first time. The group meets to discuss the ongoing TTIP negotiations and helps to establish the German position for the TTIP agreement. This new advisory group is composed of representatives from trade unions, welfare, environmental and consumer associations, from the creative arts, and other fields. The Advisory Group addresses important issues and relevant debates surrounding TTIP: in its meetings so far, the Advisory Group has focused on the creative arts, consumer protection, services of general interest, regulatory cooperation, sustainability, SMEs and the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA).
- Dialogue forums organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
The ministry’s dialogue and discussion forums provide opportunities for citizens, business representatives, trade unions and civil society organisations to state their views and ask questions related to TTIP, but also to discuss opportunities and challenges and address concerns. The latest dialogue forum was held during the Hannover Messe on 25 April 2016. It focused on the opportunities that TTIP offers for SMEs.
Dialogue and consultation services of the European Commission
The European Commission also wants the public, associations, NGOs, trade unions, and civil society groups to be kept fully informed about the negotiations on TTIP. Multiple consultations (e.g. on investment protection) have already been carried out in the lead-up to the negotiations at EU level. Furthermore, the European Commission has made position papers public and is conducting hearings during each round of negotiations. It has also been hosting various information events.
As part of its transparency initiative, the Commission has been publishing two-page fact sheets since February 2015; these cover the negotiating text presented by the U.S. negotiators and position papers on the issues up for negotiation. You can find out more here.
On 27 April 2016, the Commission also published a state-of-play report; it reflects the current situation in various fields of the negotiations.