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AFL-CIO Agrees with France—It’s High Time to Stop the Secrecy Around the U.S.-European Union Trade Negotiations

On Monday, July 29, France’s trade minister Nicole Bricq called for increased transparency in U.S.-EU trade negotiations, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),  through a statement to the French newspaper Liberation. 

According to Reuters, Bricq revealed that she has made the request to European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht to open up the European Union’s negotiation mandate to the public, stating that:

It doesn’t contain any secrets. It’s a political statement that calls for an agreement that respects our values and interests. It deserves to be debated. If the talks with United States are for a partnership, and if we are working as equals, then our practices need to change so that we speak the same language.

The AFL-CIO has continuously advocated that trade agreements and U.S. trade policy reflect our values by securing basic labor rights for all workers, while promoting economic growth with equity. Without transparency, there is no chance for public discussion of these critical issues. Even though trade agreements affect our workplace rights, the food we eat and the public services we all use, nothing is made public until decisions have been made and agreements have been signed. This model of secrecy has blocked the general public from input for extremely important trade negotiations that have cost millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs, allowed for trade benefits for repeat human rights violators and allowed global corporations to challenge social and environmental protections in undemocratic tribunals. This is not the model of trade our working families deserve or need.

Transparency can be only the first step. By opening up negotiations, the AFL-CIO is optimistic that trade policy can be conducted in a way that protects workers and promotes shared prosperity in the global economy. The U.S. government should pay attention to these efforts and respond by opening up its negotiating texts for the TTIP and other trade agreements. Democracy only works when citizens know what their governments are doing. Please watch out for continued updates on the TTIP and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) as negotiations continue. We’ll need your help to make sure our legislators and the administration know that workers and families care about trade negotiations, and they must be done right.

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