this article says

The European Commission is making the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal even more secret, introducing a new rule that means politicians can only view the text in a secure 'reading room' in Brussels.

There had been concerns that smaller countries like Cyprus and Austria "had no resources to sift through the documents in the reading room in Brussels".

So to sum up: The TTIP negotiating politicians want to limit the access of the TTIP documents to the elected political lead, but want to prevent the publicly availability.

I know, they want to prevent leaks of the TTIP law text. Additionally, i know that the eu has released some documents describing the aims of TTIP.

But i don't know why the TTIP law text is kept secret in the first place, so that our society could actually read it if it wanted to. Hence my question, why are the TTIP law documents kept secret and not released publicly?

  • Greenpeace Netherlands obtained a copy of the current (April 2016) TTIP drafts and put them online: ttip-leaks.org
    – Philipp
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 12:01
  • 1
    @Philipp yes, and likewise has wikileaks i think. But i'm not talking about that. I'm talking about an offical release of the full and current version of TTIP.
    – uuu
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 16:00

4 Answers 4


As per the Article 8, comma 4, of the "EU Council Decision of 23 September 2013 on the security rules for protecting EU classified information":

  1. Areas in which EUCI classified CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL or above is stored shall be established as Secured Areas in accordance with Annex II and approved by the competent security authority

It is safe to assume that the "secure reading room" in which politicans can read the text is a Secured Area, and thus that the TTIP is classified as CONFIDENTIEL UE/EU CONFIDENTIAL or above. This means that the unauthorized disclosure of the TTIP would arguably harm the essential interests of the European Union , rather than simply being disadvantageous to the interests of the European Union. Note that there is an Agreement between the USA and the EU on the management of classified information (see http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/105689.pdf) in which each Party recognizes the classification levels of the other, which means that - at least from a legal standpoint - my argument makes sense.

Clearly, we are talking about economical, financial, and/or industrial interests of the European Union, but we can only speculate about the reasons why the disclosure of the TTIP would harm these interests. The United States are currently discussing another, apparently similar, treaty: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). According to the US Trading Representative Ron Kirk:

[T]here's a practical reason [to not disclose the TPP], for our ability both to preserve negotiating strength and to encourage our partners to be willing to put issues on the table they may not otherwise[...]

By the way, Wikileaks has disclosed part of the TPP (specifically, the intellectual property chapter), and it is marked as "TPP CONFIDENTIAL", so it is possible that the TTIP is marked "TTIP CONFIDENTIAL". This would make the situation a bit different, since "TTIP CONFIDENTIAL" could refer to information that might harm the interests of the treaty itself, rather than those of the Parties.

As a result, I think that the TTIP might include measures which would not be welcomed by a part of the EU citizens and/or by some organizations, but would probably benefit the US and the EU as a whole, and that the resulting protests might put at risk the signing of the Partnership.

  • 3
    When your theory in the last paragraph is correct it seems to backfire. Civil rights organizations are quite successfully with mobilizing lots of people against the agreement not despite but because of the secrecy. It allows them to freely speculate based on assuming the worst without the politicians being able to disprove them.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 15:46
  • 1
    @Philipp I know, but the main goal of the protesters (as far as I know) is to make the text public, not to prevent the signing of the treaty. On the other hand, if the text is made public before signing it, and "the worst" is no more a speculation, people would try to stop the signing, and that is what the Parties want to avoid. Since the treaty has not been signed yet, the politicans can't ensure that it will only include "positive" measures. As such, it seems more prudent - at least from the politicians' standpoint - to keep the TTIP secret.
    – A. Darwin
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 15:57
  • 1
    Imagine an imminent election, whose results depend on the perceived goodness of the TTIP. If people know that the TTIP is good, its drafters get +x votes, if they know it's bad they get -x votes. If people know nothing, the drafters get -y votes. I do think that y<x, i.e. that more people would protest against known, bad measures rather than against unknown, potentially bad ones. If this is true, the TTIP should only be made public if it was good. But the drafters don't know if the TTIP will be good. Hence why they keep it secret. Of course I'm simplifying, but I still stand by my argument.
    – A. Darwin
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 16:37
  • 2
    Can you explain how "the interests of the treaty itself" can be a thing? How can a document have interests?
    – nobody
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 17:43
  • @Andrew Medico I didn't find an appropriate wording, I guess. By "harming the interests of the treaty" I meant "putting at risk its signing, regardless of whether that would harm the interests of the EU etc." , and I was trying to keep the wording of the definition of confidential information. If such a classification existed, it would protect the signing of the treaty rather than the interests of the EU. That's why I said that it " would make the situation a bit different". I hope I made myself clear.
    – A. Darwin
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 18:08

This episode will explain it. Basically the negotiators have pressure from all sides and they need to make bargains and deals that special interests would not like. They also have to collect information surreptitiously.


SMITH: Ron Sorini was one crafty negotiator. In his spare time, he would even call textile makers and retailers and union reps in Mexico and in Canada. He would basically go around the negotiators, talk to the interests on the other side, and say, like, hey, what do you really want? What are you saying to your negotiator? So that when he faced them in the room, he knew as much as they did.

VANEK SMITH: And there was a lot of pressure on Ron, and this is one of the reasons they say that negotiations happen behind closed doors because they're trying to cut all of these deals and meanwhile, there is pressure coming at them from companies, from politicians, from unions. And they were literally crowding outside of the room where Ron was doing the negotiations at the Watergate Hotel.


In a nutshell, it's because they're shafting us all. Someone else posted a comment making excuses for them, but it's all bullshit.

An actual free-trade agreement would be extremely simple: "Let's agree to stop intervening in trade", and that's it. That doesn't take years and years of secret negotiations.

You can find impartial coverage of the TPP and lots of other stuff on "The Corbett Report", by James Corbett.

  • 1
    An actual free-trade agreement would be extremely simple: "Let's agree to stop intervening in trade" In reality it is never that simple... how do you factor in things like agrarian subsides (from direct investment to cheaper diesel for agriculture use passing through assessment for exporting firms or even weather prediction systems)? There are lots of ways of giving unfair advantage to a player apart from tariffs.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 17:28
  • 7
    I downvoted this answer not because I disagree with you (I do agree), but because this website is for facts, not the place for angry ranting and political campaigning. If you make such accusations, you need to back them up with facts.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 17:50
  • 2
    I do not come to a Q&A site for that kind of low-quality speculation. Since you do not appear to have any kind of special insight or information that the OP does not have, your answer has no value. Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:29
  • Well, it's a fairly self-evident truth that not intervening in trade results in free trade, much like not intervening in your movement results in your free movement. There's no need to "prove" obvious facts. Subsidies are just another form of intervention, and they should stop too, because they favour the subsidised groups at everyone else's expense (for example any competitors are disadvantaged, market prices are distorted etc) Commented May 5, 2016 at 8:31

Caveat Emptor: This is an educated guess.

I believe there are elements of the TTIP that involve trading of intelligence gathering technology, intelligence services, and possibly other technologies that are currently top secret in the offering country.

The US has a number of intelligence gathering technologies that it has classified secret including a few that have been leaked like StingRay. These parts of the treaty will likely remain secret for the forseeable future.

The inclusion of the technologies in the treaty gives the negotiators the ability to negotiate the entire treaty with out having to make it public until it is accepted. I would expect that there will be a public release version and a private version that is only shown to those with clearance to see the treaty.

  • This is really just wild speculation with no evidence whatsoever to back it up.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 17:18
  • @Philipp - As I admitted in the very first line. However you are never going to get an answer as to why it is classified Top Secret because it is classified top secret. Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 17:20

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