The trade agreement negotiations between the EU and USA are being handled in top secret. Therefore, even those who support the agreement, admit that it's hard to foresee the consequences that lie behind it. Dan Mullaney is a short, ruddy man in his 50's. He is the main negotiator to this trade agreement. When he enters the room, he greets everyone as if they were friends from the past and asks (even a person he has never met) if they haven't been acquainted before. During the conversation he immediately turns serious and concentrated. On first glance Ignacio Garcia Bercero, a European equivalent of Mullaney, is his complete opposite. He enters the room faintly, avoiding eye contact and sitting behind a desk gives the impression of a ghost, sometimes combing his thick beard.
To a large extent, it depends on Mullaney and Garcia Bercero what the overall outcome will be. However, they are connected in a different way. Both are highly educated lawyers flooded with diplomatic and trade agreements. The former finished the prestigious Georgetown University and for years has represented American interests in Brussels and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The latter studied law in Madrid and London. Before he took responsibility over TTIP, he also worked with WTO, representing the EU in the United Nations and was accountable for trade agreements between Europe and South Korea as well as South American countries. Both share one more trait - every question asked by reporters about the stage of negotiation they are at, answer very fluently however never actually answer the question at hand.
From this point of view Mullaney and Garcia Bercero do not stand out in the group affiliated in TTIP. 'Here lies a great problem with the transparency of the negotiations' - says Luc Hendrickx, director of UEAPME associations representing 12mln European small and average firms, also from Poland. 'We support the agreement, because we believe that the abolition of trade barriers will bring new opportunities for business. However, its very difficult to talk about precise matters, because we don't know what the overall outcome of the negotiations will be' - he adds.
Secret or open?
Over 100 people participate from every side of the negotiation. When they all come to Brussells or Washington, they take up even 7 conference rooms, where they discuss particular aspects of the agreement. Apart from this, Karel De Gucht, union trade commissioner, thinks that conversations about TTIP are the most open trade negotiations that the EU has ever ran. Similarly thinks Antony Luzzato Gardner, an American ambassador in the EU. The Americans confess, that certain subjects have to be talked about behind closed doors. In fact, USA depends on discretion, because they are also negotiating on free trade agreements in the Pacific (TTP). Americans don't won't Asians to know, on which concessions USA is willing to agree on with Europe.
Both average Americans, as well as typical Europeans often differently interpret secrets that hover around negotiations. What's interesting is that on both sides of the Atlantic can we here similar sounding concerns about privatization of public sectors. For example: water supply networks (Austria), mass import of cheap meat stuffed with hormones (Germany) or the cut down on consumer protection standards (Europe and USA). Meanwhile, commissioner de Gucht has time and again reassured that he will not let American genetically modified food enter Europe's markets and that TTIP will not deteriorate consumer protection standards. The US President, Barack Obama in fact also gave the last promise. Although, we must give kudos to sceptics because until the time the content of the agreement reaches its final stages, negotiators can return to individual aspects of the agreement at their own will. However, the repeated rumor in Brussels states that the negotiating mandate of Ignacia Garcia Bercero does not take into account discussions about GMO. Furthermore, the ones interested in the subject remain only conjectures, because information about the European mandate of the negotiator has not been delivered to the general public. So we can't be sure, what exactly can be discussed with Dan Mullaney.
Illustration: The deep sea fish / Wikipedia