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Carthy attends EU “Secret Reading Room” to access US trade deal documents

16 October, 2015 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on the EU Commission to make public all documents relating to the ongoing trade negotiations with the United States.  He highlighted the absurdity of the current secrecy arrangements which include limited documents being available to MEPs who enter a 'Classified Information Unit' where some TTIP documents are kept under lock and key.

Carthy this week entered this secret reading room to read the draft TTIP chapter on Agriculture.

Speaking after reading the documents, Mr Carthy says,

"I have been raising awareness about the negative impact TTIP would have for democratic institutions, environmental standards, workers' rights and the future of the agriculture sector for some time. 

"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 a small, limited amount of documentation is available to be viewed by MEPs.

"In order to access these documents MEP's must register and attend the 'secret reading' room.

This week I took the opportunity to do so. 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 of them.  Not to have access to information that is denied to the citizens I represent.

"The document I focused on was 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.

"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.

"The documents that I saw this week and the documents that have remained under lock and key by the commission must be released so that people can make informed judgements.

 "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." ENDS

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