European Parliament Orders MEP To Take Down A Video About His Attempt To Visit The 'Reading Room' For Trade Documents
from the really-now? dept
We’ve written many times about the insane levels of secrecy around various trade agreements, including the TTIP agreement that is being worked on between the EU and the US. Basically, everything gets negotiated behind closed doors — though certain lobbyists get full access — and then it will be presented as a final document when it’s too late for the public to actually weigh in. It’s the ultimate in corrupt processes. In the past, the USTR has admitted that it demands such secrecy because if it had to reveal its positions publicly, the public wouldn’t support the agreement. In the US, this has led to ridiculous situations such as when Senator Ron Wyden, who at the time was the chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on international trade, was not allowed to bring a staffer of his, who is an expert in international trade, with him to read the latest text of a trade negotiation. Because that went against the rules.
And it’s been standard practice in the US that if a politician does want to see the documents, they can’t bring anything with them (not just no staff, but no electronics, no way to write anything down). They can just “read and retain.” The EU has been following the US’s lead on this, with special “reading rooms” for elected officials where someone watches over their every move. Again, they’re not allowed any electronics. They are allowed a pen and are given paper to write on, which is a modest improvement on the USTR’s system, but still ridiculous.
A Member of the European Parliament, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, decided that he was going to go have a look for himself, and had someone film his attempt:
This is, of course, already pretty ridiculous. And then it got more ridiculous because the European Parliament demanded that Flanagan take down the video, something he is refusing to do:
— Luke 'Ming' Flanagan (@lukeming) May 4, 2016
?The reason given (for removing the video) is that no permission for filming was received from the parliament,? Flanagan told TheJournal.ie.
An assistant of MEP Bernd Lange appears in the video, and Lange wants her name removed, the MEP claimed.
?It?s important to note that all assistants are already openly identified on the EP website,? Flanagan added.
It seems pretty clear that the EU Parliament isn’t pleased with the contents of the video. Of course, in demanding it be taken down, it’s only served to drive that much more attention to the video. I doubt I would have heard about it otherwise. Funny how that works.
Either way, it continues to raise questions about what kind of democratic process there is when these kinds of regulations are written in secret, with the help of lobbyists, and even the legislators themselves are basically barred from seeing or understanding what’s in them. And then when those legislators highlight how ridiculous this is, the powers that be try to silence them.