Friday, 20 December 2013

Brussels nervous on public reaction to EU-US trade talks

The EU Commission has discussed with member-states how best to communicate to the public the pending EU-US trade deal called the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.” The meeting was attended by national officials in charge of dealing with


media relations. A paper accompanying the meeting, called “Communicating on TTIP,” obtained by the Danish magazine Notat outlines the EU’s media strategy during the talks.

Formal talks on the agreement began in July, but the scope of the talks and what it could mean for consumers has been the subject of controversy. “The aim is to define, at this early stage in the negotiations, the terms of the debate,” the paper states, “by communicating positively about what the TTIP is about rather than being drawn reactively into defensive communication about what TTIP is not.”

However, the first notes of concern were sounded before the last round of talks held in Brussels earlier this month. A series of consumer groups and NGOs expressed fears that an agreement could water down EU standards on environmental protection and food safety, including genetically modified products. The charge was swiftly rejected by the EU’s chief negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero.

Although the negotiations are held behind closed doors, the Commission says that 350 representatives of NGOs, business and consumer groups met the chief EU and US negotiators for an update on the talks earlier this month. 

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