Latest EU Mandate For EU-US FTA Shows Priorities

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

Audiovisual content should be out of scope for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but protection of European geographical indications is covered and intellectual property issues in general “explored,” European Union governments wrote in their draft negotiation mandate for the Commission, dated 21 May.

A big step with regard to IP protection could be the inclusion of “state-of-the-art investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism.” ISDS mechanisms recently were discussed in a report by the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which noted a need to evaluate its efficacy. With IP explicitly becoming a topic of ISDS, patent rules or changes in the copyright systems could become a target of investors.

The draft mandate, expected to be passed during a dedicated one-day session of the EU Foreign Affairs Council of Ministers on 14 June, was leaked by German activist blog “netzpolitik.org” (see here).

Members of the European Parliament during their plenary debate on a TTIP resolution fought over the terms for transparency, with the Green Party failing with their resolution asking for more transparency and the Council debate over the mandate to be streamed. Transparency over the course of the TTIP negotiations is not significantly addressed in the document. The document contains a more general commitment to consult stakeholders before measures are introduced and publish general rules and measures with impact on international trade and investment.

A new paragraph added to the mandate compared with earlier versions states with regard to access to information in general states: “Nothing in this Agreement should affect EU or Member State laws regarding public access to official documents.” One might wonder given the rather broad scope of the mandate document, why the European Commission and member states still uphold that for tactical reasons such a document has to be kept secret.

 

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