EU Parliament Backs Start Of Transatlantic FTA Negotiations

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

The European Parliament today voted in favour of a resolution welcoming the start of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). With 460 votes in favour, 105 against – mainly the Green Party Group and the Left – and 28 abstentions, the resolution passed after a heated debate Wednesday night. The majority allowed for the flexibility asked for by EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht in the debate but nevertheless requested to “exclude cultural and audiovisual services, including those provided online.”

Other concerns listed are genetically modified organisms, cloning and consumer health. On the other side, the Parliament supported that the “agreement should include strong protection of precisely and clearly defined areas of intellectual property rights (IPRs).” A competing resolution by the Green Party which declared IPR protection “an area where there are deep transatlantic divergences and which requires agreement on exceptions to rights, limitations to remedies and proportionate enforcement” and recommended to keep it “for a later stage of negotiations” did not pass.

Controversial were also the different requests for transparency. While the majority settled on “the need for proactive outreach and continuous and transparent engagement by the [European] Commission with a wide range of stakeholders,” the Green Party resolution asked for a higher level of transparency, including webstreaming of the EU Council’s deliberations on the mandate. Council will decide on the mandate in a dedicated session on 14 June. The draft mandate was leaked first by US publication Inside US Trade (link see on the website of European Digital Rights [EDRi], here).

The EU Commission tried to counter arguments about being non-transparent, beginning invitations for a second stakeholder dialogue meeting. Both EDRI and the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) reported about the first dialogue meeting.

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