Minister Gabriel today opened the new TTIP reading room in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy; it will be available for use from 1 February. This means that, for the first time, all members of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat can have easy access to the confidential consolidated texts from the negotiations between the EU and the U.S.
Minister Gabriel said: "TTIP provides an opportunity for Europe and the United States, the two largest trading blocs in the world, to set standards. The agreement is to open the markets further on both sides of the Atlantic and thus to foster growth in Germany. Since taking up office, I have been calling for greater transparency towards the general public and members of parliament. It is important to be open with people and involve them closely in order to generate public acceptance and legitimacy for the negotiations on a modern agreement between the European Commission and the United States. After all, ultimately the Bundestag and the Bundesrat will have to give their approval. So the fact that we are now able to furnish the members of parliament with a reading room, admittedly not on Bundestag premises, but at least here in the Economic Affairs Ministry, marks a good step forward. Germany is one of the first EU Member States to set up a reading room for this purpose."
The Economic Affairs Ministry is providing space, technology and staff. The rules on the confidentiality of the documents are based on agreements between the European Commission and the U.S. administration (for example, no images may be made of the confidential texts). The Bundestag and its administration are defining the rules for the use of the reading room, e.g. when which members of parliament may use the facility. The members of parliament then decide themselves how they wish to organise their visits to the TTIP reading room.