EU operating ‘top secret’ unit to restrict MEP access to US trade deal records

Documents ‘kept under lock and key’ in clandestine EU reading room

Irish MEP had to ‘sign a confidentiality agreement swearing never to divulge the information’

‘My phone was taken from me and I was accompanied into the room by an official, who remained in the reading room for the duration’

Sligo News File Online

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has spoken of a blanket of secrecy Brussels is operating under to prevent citizens finding out what unelected Brussels officials are brokering in EU negotiations with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal.

Matt Carty, MEP, Sinn Fein, Midlands - North West constituency
Matt Carty, MEP, Sinn Fein, Midlands – North West constituency

Calling on the EU Commission to place all documents surrounding the TTIP negotiations in the public domain, Carty said that before he was permitted to view the draft TTIP chapter on agriculture last week, he first had to register to attend the ‘secret reading room’ in which nearly all the records are held ‘under lock and key’.

Carty said he has been raising awareness about the negative impact the TTIP as it stands would have for “democratic institutions, workers’ rights and the future of agriculture.”

He said; “TTIP is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by unelected European officials, and almost all of the documents and details of the negotiations are kept secret.

“One of the outworking’s of the secretive nature of the negotiations is that only a small, limited amount of documentation is available to be viewed by MEPs.”

In order to access even this number of documents MEPs, he said, must register and attend the ‘secret reading’ room.

“I had to sign a confidentiality agreement swearing never to divulge the information, my phone was taken from me and I was accompanied into the room by an official, who remained in the reading room for the duration.

“I am elected by the people of Ireland to represent them and to inform them of developments at an EU level that may impact on them, not to have access to information that is denied to the citizens I represent.”

Carty said the document he focused on in the secret reading room was the Draft Chapter on Agriculture “and while there were worrying elements within it, there was nothing that could be argued as being so sensitive that it should be hidden from the media and citizens, accessible only to some MEPs.

He said; “It should be remembered, what’s inside the reading room is just the tip of the iceberg; the most sensitive documents are still hidden to MEPs and even national governments.

Top SecretStating that the documents he had seen, and the documents that have remained under lock and key by the commission, must be released so that people can make informed judgements, he said, “the potentials of TTIP are too important and too dangerous for details to be kept from European citizens.

“Although Fine Gael and Labour are happy to act as cheerleaders for the EU commission rather than defenders of Irish workers and farmers, I and my colleagues within Sinn Féin will continue to back those that elect us and prevent any threats to our rights, standards or industries.”