[Ip-health] Reuters: EU hauled to court over secrecy in India trade talks

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Feb 15 22:09:36 PST 2011


Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:54am EST

* Activists challenge secretive EU trade negotiations

* EU withheld details of export plans shared with industry

* Law suit intensifies pressure for EU transparency

* Commission says needs to protect foreign relations

By Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

BRUSSELS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Transparency campaigners have hauled the  
European Union's executive to court for withholding documents about  
free trade talks with India, intensifying pressure on the bloc to make  
its policy-making less secretive.

The lawsuit, lodged with the EU's second-highest court on Tuesday,  
accuses the EU Commission of breaking transparency and democracy rules  
by refusing to disclose to campaigners details of plans shared with EU  
industry on how to open Indian markets.

"Industry lobbies enjoy massively privileged access and influence in  
trade negotiations, even when there are concerns from other quarters  
that this is threatening Indian labour rights and access to  
medicines," said Pia Eberhardt, campaigner for Corporate Europe  
Observatory, which lodged the complaint.

Campaigners are focusing on India because the EU is expected to  
complete a free trade agreement with the rapidly developing nation  
this year following almost four years of negotiations.

The case, lodged in the European General Court, concerns the  
Commission's refusal over 18 months to give campaigners full access to  
email exchanges and notes from meetings with EU governments and  
business groups about how to export more pork, poultry, medical  
equipment and car tyres to India.

The Commission deleted key passages from the notes before giving them  
to the Observatory, citing rules to protect international relations,  
according to documents obtained by Reuters.

"If the Commission has already shared information with the business  
world at large, the same information cannot suddenly become  
confidential when a public interest group asks for it," Eberhardt said.

The claim says the Commission sent full notes to lobby groups  
including BusinessEurope, the EU's largest employers' organisation.


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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