Juncker’s commitment to transparency in Brexit talks must become standard practice – Richmond

-   Senator Neale Richmond

Juncker’s commitment to transparency in Brexit talks is welcome and must become standard practice for all EU negotiations and trade deals, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

EU Affairs spokesman in the Seanad, Neale Richmond, said: “Over the past year, the issue of transparency has dogged EU efforts to finalise trade deals with the USA and Canada.

“The TTIP with the USA seems dead in the water while the CETA deal with Canada was only just passed following reconsideration by the Wallonian Parliament in Belgium.

“Both deals were negotiated largely behind closed doors, in secret. When given the opportunity to view negotiating documents, Oireachtas members had to visit a secure reading room, forfeit their phones and agree to confidentiality.

“This practice is simply not fit for purpose. By negotiating in silence, the European Commission merely fed into the conspiracy theories surrounding these deals and was unable to counter the many myths circulated.

“For those of us in favour of increased and freer trade, we found ourselves stymied in arguments by the negotiating approaches of the very people we were defending.

“When it comes to the Brexit negotiations, it is vital that these are done as openly as possible so that the people of Europe, and their representatives, can be fully included in the process.

“Such openness will allow for a sense of public ownership of the negotiating process as well as provide a counter to attempts, already seen, to undermine the negotiating process by certain elements in the U.K. be it media or political.

“Indeed there could be an increased role for the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, in guaranteeing the highest levels of transparency going forward.

“I strongly welcome President Juncker’s commitment to openness, evident already in talks, and urge for this to be continued beyond Brexit.”

ENDS

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