TAFTA/TTIP: What Price Transparency?

from the one-law-for-the-rich,-one-law-for-the-poor dept

One of the key problems with TAFTA/TTIP is the same one that plagued ACTA and has recently been highlighted with TPP: the complete lack of any meaningful transparency. However much the negotiators may claim that transparency is important to them, there’s no evidence to support that view. Or perhaps the politicians think the existence of conferences like one being held in Brussels next January provide enough opportunities for anyone who wants to convey their views to the EU’s Chief Negotiator, say. He’ll be attending, along with several other senior European Commission officials, according to the program.

Unlike many overpriced conferences, the costs for this one seem quite reasonable: it charges less for NGOs and not-for-profit organizations than for corporate visitors, and will try to accommodate those who can’t afford even that:

We realise the importance of including all groups in the discussions at our events, and will always do our best to ensure that nobody is excluded due to not being able to afford the conference fee.

If you find the charge for tickets a barrier to attending, please let us know and we will endeavour to come to an arrangement to facilitate your participation. Please note however that this applies to individuals, unfunded academics/students and representatives of small charities, not businesses, individuals funded by an organisation, or larger charities/not-for-profit organisations.

That’s to be commended, because otherwise members of the public whose means are very limited are inevitably excluded from such important opportunities to make their views known to key political figures in the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations (although they still have the cost of getting to Brussels…) But there’s one area where money most certainly talks at this conference. The “Sponsorship Prospectus” (pdf) spells out some of things that can be bought. For example, for a mere €4000, you can be “Exclusive Host of VIP & Speaker Dinner” with the following benefits:

Opportunity to speak during dinner debate
Three-course dinner for speakers and high-level invited guests
Three seats at dinner reserved for your representatives or guests
Corporate identity displayed in dining area during dinner
Corporate identity included on menu cards
Full page advert in programme
3 complimentary delegate places

Then there are really major sponsorships that aren’t even up for grabs — things like becoming the conference’s “Platinum Sponsor”, which turns out to be the Business Software Alliance (BSA). I wonder what the BSA receives in exchange for that sponsorship: special access to some of the key people taking part, certainly, and probably the EU’s Chief Negotiator too. Given that the BSA was originally in favor of SOPA, we can guess what its representatives at this conference will be saying to him when they meet.

And that’s the real problem here. Those able to pay for sponsorship are granted a level of direct and concentrated access that the mere conference plebs — even if admitted free of charge thanks to the organizer’s laudable generosity — will never enjoy. That might not matter if there were plenty of other ways for the public to make their views known to the TAFTA/TTIP negotiators, but as we know, there aren’t any.

Which means that the vast disparity in influence that exists between the rich and powerful who already have an inside track to TAFTA/TTIP officials, and the hundreds of millions of people in whose name the negotiations are supposedly being held, will be made even greater by events such as the one taking place in Brussels next year. That’s not the fault of the conference organizers, of course, but it’s certainly is the fault of the US and EU politicians that mouth platitudes about TAFTA/TTIP’s transparency while failing to put into practice.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Companies: bsa

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Comments on “TAFTA/TTIP: What Price Transparency?”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Obama is Hollywood's bitch

yep it’s so predictable like trying to shoo away squirrels from a bird feeder you just know the bastards will return trying to do the same thing over and over robbing the birdseed they never get the message

I love lines!!!!!!!zzzzzzzz

GOOGLE IS FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


1:2:3[4-1337-5] [ This is necessary to suppress the trollolols here from fraud in using my screen name. ]

Jake says:

Generosity my good right boot. It’s ‘transparency theatre’; they’ll graciously allow NGOs and universities a discount so they can claim they’re giving everyone a chance to be heard, but what are the odds that they’ll schedule their presentations for times when everyone with actual decision-making power has a prior engagement, like Happy Hour?

Anonymous Coward says:

just like the "insider shop" here on TD !!

pay more… get more access

for just $15 a year you get to be an “insider” for $15 a month you get “behind the curtain”, give him $30,000 and he will arrange an event for you !!!!.

what’s the difference ? or is it wrong for someone else to do that and right for TD, or is it ok for both to do it ?

I am not saying its wrong for TD to do it, they have every right to do what it likes, (within the law), so does any other group or person or party..

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: just like the "insider shop" here on TD !!

“what’s the difference ?”

Mike is running his own private website, not trying to write international law?

You don’t need to pay any such fee in order to participate in any debate whatsoever (something you blissfully partake in without recognising the irony of your own complaints)?

You surely have to be somewhat wilfully dishonest to be trying to apply this level of false equivalence.

“they have every right to do what it likes, (within the law)”

You answered it yourself. They’re not merely being afforded more of a voice at this particular conference, they’re being afforded more influence over the decision making over the writing of the law itself. You really don’t understand the problem?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: just like the "insider shop" here on TD !!

As a negotiation leading up to a legal document, you would expect at least some realisation of the importance of equal opportunity for the interests.

Unfortunately the situation around anything nearing trade negotiations is straight up Animal Farm logic: “Everybody is equal, but some are more equal than others”. In this case the “everybody is equal” is represented by the payed visit and the “somo are more equal than others” is the sponsors. I think the Animal Farm analogy is starting to get too obvious. Ban the book?

Anonymous Coward says:

doesn’t mean for 1 second that they will listen to anyone other than the maximalists or take notice of any side other than, again, the maximalist. it’s surprising how gutless these ‘negotiators’ are. as soon as one of the copyright groups starts to get vocal over something that may benefit the public, the attitude changes completely and the public get thrown over the cliff, again!

Anonymous Coward says:

Their assumptions are showing

The interesting thing here is that all of the content in that package is targeted at corporations. For ?1250, you can get lanyards that ensure the “high visibility of your brand throughout the event”. For ?1200, you can get your “company logo” on your event badges. For ?1800, you get a full-page advert in the program and your “corporate identity” displayed during coffee breaks.

It’s almost like they assume that the major backers of the proposal will all be corporate entities. The possibility of NGOs or non-profits being involved does not seem to have occurred to them.

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