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Activists take EU commission to court over secret trade deal with India news
15 February 2011

Transparency campaigners have taken the EU executive to court for withholding documents about free trade talks with India. This, they say, is aimed at making the bloc move towards a less secretive regime as regards policy making.

The lawsuit, filed with the EU's second-highest court today, accuses the European Commission (EC) of breaching transparency and democracy rules by withholding from campaigners details of plans shared with EU industry on opening of Indian markets.

"Industry lobbies enjoy massively privileged access and influence in trade negotiations, even when there are concerns from other quarters that this is threatening Indian labour rights and access to medicines," said Pia Eberhardt, campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory, which lodged the complaint.

The focus is on India as the EU is moving towards concluding a free trade agreement with the fast developing nation after a long drawn negotiation process that has extended over four years.

The case, filed with the European General Court, centres around the EU's refusal over 18 months to provide campaigners full access to email exchanges and notes from meetings with EU governments and business groups, on how to export more pork, poultry, medical equipment and car tyres to India.

According to documents accessed by Reuters, the commission struck off key passages from the notes before handing them to the Observatory, invoking rules to protect international relations.

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Activists take EU commission to court over secret trade deal with India