Corporate Europe Observatory launched a legal action against the European Commission for witholding information related to the EU free trade negotiations with India, while sharing the same information with corporate lobbyists. The European Court of Justice will hear the case on January 11 2013.
The lawsuit (T-93/11) concerns 17 documents related to the ongoing EU-India free trade negotiations. According to CEO, the European Commission shared all of these documents in full with corporate lobby groups such as BusinessEurope. But they only shared a censored version with CEO, with allegedly sensitive information about priorities, tactics and strategies in the negotiations deleted. The Commission explained that the public disclosure of the documents would have negatively impacted on the relations with India.
CEO didn’t accept the argument and wondered how documents that were already shared with the business community, could become threats if publicly disclosed. This is the core question raised by the lawsuit.
The case is particularly important as the six year long negotiations between the EU and India have sped up, with a potential conclusion during the first half of 2013. There are rumours that the negotiations may fuel more inequalities. In addition, privileged access for big businesses to confidential trade negotiations means that public interest groups find it harder to defend people’s rights and environmental concerns in such negotiations. It also means that negotiations are biaised and hampers a genuine participation in EU trade policy-making.
The ECJ ruling is expected in several months.