[Ip-health] Reuters: EU hauled to court over secrecy in India trade talks
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.
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org
Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997
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