PositionTransatlantic Business Dialogue - Brief Article

Influence of big business.The TABD was set up in 1995 when the then US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and EU Commissioners Leon Brittan and Martin Bangemann organised a conference in Seville of top company executives. It has since become more formalised, holding annual conferences attended by business people and politicians, including EU Commissioners for Trade Pascal Lamy and Enterprise Erkki Liikanen. The TABD's role is to identify trade barriers between America and Europe and come up with ways of removing them. Its recommendations are usually presented to the annual EU-US leaders' Summit. The non-governmental organisation COE, which campaigns on an anti-corporate platform, feels the TABD is just a way for big business to curb social, environmental and consumer protection legislation. It says the Commission should not give the TABD negotiating status, as it has no role under the EU Treaties.The arguments.In its opinion to the Ombudsman, the EU executive argued that a Commissioner's position at such events may not be in line with the briefing or speaking notes. Therefore, to allow access to such documents might mislead the public and, moreover, could compromise relations with the United States. It added that the documents in question only gave the opinions of Commission staff members and had no real...

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