We, the undersigned civil society organisations call for a fundamental overhaul of the trade policy decision-making process for ongoing and future trade and investment agreements of the EU.

Modern trade agreements are increasing in scope, reduce policy space and formulate disciplines for democratic decision making in all fields of society. CETA and TTIP have shown that the way that EU trade and investment agreements are negotiated and ratified today privileges corporate interests and lacks a democratic process lasting from the beginning of negotiations until ratification. From the very start, business lobbyists were widely consulted, while public interest groups, Parliamentarians, municipalities and regional governments as well as citizens were largely left in the dark. Such processes, lacking broad
democratic participation, and the secrecy surrounding the negotiations (draft TTIP chapters remain secret until today) have been key factors that led to the controversies around the CETA ratification process.

The experience of CETA and TTIP calls for fundamental change to the existing processes of how EU Trade and Investment agreements are negotiated. Only a democratic and transparent process from its inception, both at the European and Member States level, has the potential to ensure that trade and investment agreements will benefit all and hence gain broad endorsement.

Our goal is to democratise EU trade policy making by properly involving the European Parliament, Member States parliaments, civil society, and having a broad public debate ensured by a transparent process. This effort is part of a much broader European movement to democratise Europe

These are not technical but political questions. Recent proposals by the European Commission to take investment from future trade agreements and thereby making them EU only cannot lead to less democracy and public debate. Throughout the whole process we need the involvement of parliaments and a public debate from the local to the European level. We cannot allow to rush the process at the expanse of democratic involvement.

In our view the following guiding principles and steps are necessary to achieve democratic EU trade and investment policies and agreements:

Guiding principle

Trade is not an end in itself, it must be a means to achieve social, environmental and economic objectives. Trade and investment agreements must not put trade liberalisation and maximisation and reduction of costs for business as main priorities but contribute to public interest objectives such as tackling climate change, securing decent jobs, protecting citizens’ health, ensuring tax justice and financial stability. This means also that trade policy must support the fulfillment and achievement of human rights and other treaties and agreements such as the Paris Climate Treaty, ILO Standards, the Biodiversity convention, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nine steps for a democratic process

1. Open ended and transparent public consultation before mandates are formulated

The Commission should hold an open and transparent public consultation during the initial phase preceding the launch of the negotiations and before the negotiation mandate is drafted. The consultation must be open ended and not allow only for one predetermined outcome. The Commission should make the draft mandate publicly available as soon as it is ready to allow a full and meaningful debate in parliaments and with civil society. To ensure full transparency all contributions to the public consultation are to be made public.

2. Ensure balanced stakeholder input from the formulation of the mandate to the ratification process

All stakeholders should have an equal opportunity to provide input to decision-makers before, during and after the negotiation of a trade and investment agreement. Governments and the Commission need to ensure that they achieve balance in their stakeholder interaction, both quantitatively and qualitatively. This includes actively seeking input from underrepresented groups as well as limiting interaction with groups that are overrepresented. Contacts with interest groups should be disclosed fully and proactively. Furthermore, the Commission should refrain from seeking direct input from interest groups non-transparently on a bilateral basis.

3. European and Member State parliaments must approve the mandate

The mandates for trade and investment agreements must be discussed and approved not only by the Council, but also the European Parliament. The Member State governments must discuss mandates with their parliaments and obtain their approval.

4. Directorate Generals (DGs) and ministries with a public interest objective must have a much more prominent role in the negotiations

To ensure that social, environmental and economic objectives as well as public interest are prioritized over commercial interests other DG’s/ministries must have a substantially more prominent role in trade policy formulation at all levels of the policy process.

5. All mandates and negotiating documents must be public

All mandates, negotiating proposals and consolidated negotiation texts as well as stakeholder input must be proactively published and fully publically accessible.

6. Parliaments must be able to give directions during the negotiating process

The European Parliament and the parliaments of the Member States
must receive detailed up-to date information and negotiation texts (e.g. using Germany’s “Act on Cooperation between the Federal Government and the German Bundestag in Matters concerning the European Union” as a starting-point for improved access to information rights). They must be allowed to formulate guidelines and directions for ongoing negotiations. All those debates should be public and allow for contributions from all interested civil society organisations.

7. Broad parliamentary debate before signing and voting agreements

The European Parliament and the parliaments of Member States must ensure a broad public debate of an agreement in the parliament after it is available in all languages. This includes allowing all relevant committees to assess the agreement involving different interest groups before voting on it or before Member State governments take a position in the Council. It also includes publishing a full assessment of the benefits and risks of the agreement to be undertaken. Parliaments must have the right to send the proposed text back to the negotiating table, also after the negotiations are concluded.

8. Abolish provisional application for mixed trade agreements

The practice of provisional application of international treaties was intended for situations of emergency and great urgency not for trade and investment agreements. Such agreements should only be applied when they have been fully ratified.

9. Agreements must be concluded for a limited time period with the possibility of prolongation

International agreements concluded by the EU are difficult to terminate. The Commission needs to propose to the Council to take such action by qualified majority or even unanimity and the European Parliament needs to consent to such a decision. This high hurdle prevents future governments from evaluating trade agreements that have been negotiated by previous governments. Therefore, every trade agreement negotiated by the EU should only be concluded for a limited period of time, with the possibility for both Parties to prolong the duration after that period. In addition, the European Parliament and Member State parliaments need to have the right to request a comprehensive review of trade and investment agreements based on a Human Rights and Sustainability Impact Assessment.

Some of the steps we outline can be achieved immediately, others will need a more fundamental reform of the involved institutions. Together these steps present a road to a trade and investment policy where public interest is in the driving seat.

 

Signing Organisations

 

11.11.11 Belgium
Active Citizens of Larissa Greece
Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network Belgium
Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network Spain
Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network United Kingdom
Aegilopas, Biodiversity Network of Magnesia Greece
Afrika Kontakt Denmark
Allianz gerechter Handel Austria
Almyros Environmental Initiative ‘In Action’ Greece
Alternative Community of PELITI Greece
ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Center on Racism, Ecology, Peace Greece
ArtSocialSpace Brunnenpassage Austria
Association Léo Lagrange pour la Défense des Consommateurs France
Association of Cheese Producers of Thessaly Greece
Association of Organic Farmers of Thessaly Greece
Association of Writers  of Larissa Greece
Association of Young Farmers of Larissa Greece
ATTAC – HELLAS Greece
Attac Andalucia Spain
Attac Austria Austria
ATTAC España Spain
Attac Ireland Ireland
attac-vorarlberg Austria
Attc France France
Attica Ecological Response Greece
Attica Environment S.O.S Greece
BIOZO – Pan-Hellenic Consumers’ Association Greece
Both ENDS Netherlands
Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) / Friends of the Earth Germany Germany
Carousel Theater Austria
CFE-CGC France France
CGT France
ClientEarth Belgium
CNCD-11.11.11 Belgium
COAG-Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos Spain
Collectif “Ma Commune Hors CETA” Belgium
Collectif Roosevelt France
Collectif Roosevelt .BE Belgium
Comhlamh Ireland
Commission Justice et Paix Belgium
Common association of Trikala Greece
Confederación de Autónomos del Taxi de la Comunidad Valenciana Spain
Consumer protection org. sterea greece Greece
Cooperative of Zagora, Pelion Greece
COORDINADORA ESTATAL DE COMERCIO JUSTO Spain
Corporate Europe Observatory Belgium
Corporations-Zero Tolerance Portugal
Declic Romania
DIE LINKE Österreich Österreich
Društvo Ekologi brez meja Slovenia
Ecological Cultural Association of Chaidari OIKO.POLIS. Greece
Ecological Group of Rodopi Greece
Ecological Initiative of Chania Greece
Ecological Intervention of Heraklion Greece
Ecological Movement of Drama Greece
Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki Greece
Ecological Network Greece
Ecological Thessaly Greece
Ecologistas en Acción Spain
Ecologistas en Acción de Sanlúcar Spain
Economic Chamber of Larissa Greece
Elassona’s Peruvian Network Greece
Enginyeria sense Fronteres Spain
Entrepueblos/Entrepobles/Entrepobos/Herriarte Spain (Catalonia)
Environmental Cultural Group PERPOL.O. Greece
Environmental Initiative of Magnesia (CEE) Greece
esquerrademenorca (EU) Spain
Evangelische Pfarrgemeinde A.B. Hallein Östereich/Austria
Fair Trade Advocacy Office Belgium
Fairwatch Italy
FEDERACIÓN ASOCIACIONES PARA LA DEFENSA DE LA SANIDAD PUBLICA Spain
Federation of Livestock Farmers of Thessaly Greece
FÍS NUA Ireland
Forum Fairer Handel Germany
Foundation for Environment and Agriculture Bulgaria
Friends of Earth-Trikala Greece
Friends of N. Poulandzas Institute of Larissa Greece
Friends of the Earth Europe Europe
Fundació Novessendes de la Comunitat Valenciana Spain
General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) Greece
Gent CETA&TTIP-free zone Belgium
Gewerkschaft PROGE Österreich
Global Justice Now United Kingdom
Greek Friendship Network of Naturefriends Greece Greece
Green Institute, Greece Greece
Grüne Bildungswerkstatt NÖ Österreich
Grupo TTIP-CETA-TISA Tarragona Spain
Human dignity Germany
IDEAS S. COOP. AND. Spain
ILESSION – ENVIRONMENT ORGANIZATION Greece
INKOTA-netzwerk Germany
Inštitiut za trajnostni razvoj – Institute for Sustainable Development Slovenia
Kalecki Foundation Poland
Katholische Jungschar Österreichs Austria
Kölner Bündnis für gerechten Welthandel Germany
Kultur Ag Austria
Kulturrat Österreich Austria
La Reverde Spain
LA TENDA DE TOT EL MÓN Spain
Landsbond van Liberale Mutualiteiten Belgium
Les Amis de la Terre France France
Ljubljana Cyclists Network Slovenia
Lleida Social Spain
LobbyControl Germany
Local Urban Development European Network(LUDEN) Belgium
Marxa Mundial de Dones- Catalunya Catalunya – Spanish State
medicusmundi Spain
mehr demokratie! österreich Austria
Milieudefensie Netherlands
Mouvement Ecologique Luxembourg
Movement of keratsini drapetsonas – antropros Greece
Mutualités chrétiennes Belgium
NDA Italy
Netzwerk Soziale Verantwortung (NeSoVe) Austria
NGO Volunteer  Network of Thessaly Greece
No al TTIP Comarques de Castelló Spain
NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark Denmark
Non-Governmental Organization network of Thessaly (40 organizations participate) Greece
ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria Austria
Oikoshere Karditsas Greece
Pan-Cretean Network of Environmental Organizations Greece
Pan-Hellenic Network of Ecological Organizations (PANDOIKO) – (42 ecological organizations participate) Greece
Panhellenic Association of Young Farmers & Thessaly Greece
Place Identity Clusters Gr – Collaborative Formations on Locality Identity and Citizen Participation (AMKE) Greece
Plataforma Cantabria por lo Público y Contra los Recortes Spain
Plataforma Não ao Tratado Transatlântico Portugal
plataforma no al ttip granada Spain
Plataforma Serrana Descubriendo al TTIP Spain
Platform Aarde Boer Consument The Netherlands
Poulantzas Institute Greece
PowerShift e.V. Germany
Region of Epirus Greece
Réseau Foi & Justice Afrique Europe France
Save Our Seedsq Germany
SAW-B Belgium
Seattle to Brussels Network Europe
Self-Governing Movement “Ecology – Solidarity” of Macedonia Greece
SETEM Hego Haizea Spain
Slow Food Italy
Slow Food Deutschland e. V. Germany
Social Justice Ireland Ireland
Sociedad Civil Spain
Society for Human Rights and Supportive Action Slovenia
SOLIDARIS Belgium
Solsoc NGO Belgium
STOP CETA TTIP TiSA Network of Stations and Citizens of Thessaly (24 bodies involved) Greece
STOP TTIP CETA TiSA Greece for a democratic Europe with solidarity in a fair world trade Greece
Südwind Austria
Terpsithea Local Council Greece
Thessalian Citizens of the World for Sustainable Development Greece
Trade Justice Movement (UK) United Kingdom
transform!at Austria
Transnational Institute (TNI) Netherlands
Traversing Streets of Thessaly Greece
TTIP-CETA-TISA campo de Tarragona Spain
Umanotera Slovenia
Union Nationale des Mutualités Neutres Belgium
Veblen Institute France
Verein “Orchesterwelt” Österreich
Vineyard Professionals Association Greece
War on Want UK
World Elassonites org. Greece