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FAQ – TiSA

 About TiSA Leaks

  1. What kind of documents has Greenpeace Netherlands released?
    November 2016: Greenpeace Netherlands has released 7 new secret documents of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) which is being negotiated by the EU, US and 22 other countries. Earlier versions of five of the documents were already published before – by our first TiSA leak in September 2016 (E-Commerce, Professional Services) or by Wikileaks (E-Commerce, Professional Services, Transparency, Telecommunication Services, State-owned Enterprises, Professional Services, E-Commerce).September 2016: Greenpeace Netherlands has released 22 secret documents of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) which is being negotiated by the EU, US and 22 other countries. One of the documents was already published by Wikileaks before.
  2. What do these documents tell us?
    November 2016: The documents reveal the state of the negotiations that are underway and the positions of several countries involved in these TiSA negotiations. The documents are negotiations proposals (draft text for annexes), a non-paper on data flows and the agenda for a recent meeting of the chief negotiators taking place in Washington on 17-18 October 2016.September 2016: The documents reveal the state of the negotiations that are underway and the positions of several countries involved in these TiSA negotiations. The documents are negotiations proposals (draft text for annexes) and positions and discussion papers by different TiSA parties like Australia, Canada, Colombia, European Union, Mexico and United States.
  3. What is new in these documents?
    November 2016: The leaked documents are negotiations document internally released in the sphere of the 20th TiSA negotiation round 9 – 25 September 2016 showing the development in the negotiations. Two documents have been circulated after the 20th round. These two show the US interest to get access to big data of all TiSA parties (non-paper of data flows) and how the services business has direct access to chief negotiators (CN, agenda for a CN meeting in Washington).September 2016: The leaked set of documents consists of mostly older and some newer ones. The older papers are a treasure chest for those interested in the democracy and transparency aspects of a trade agreement – even from the beginning. The most interesting document, form an environmental point of view is the leaked annex on “energy and mining related services”. These leaked documents provide further evidence about how the negotiations are progressing and what exactly is being discussed, giving us insight into the position of countries involved.These negotiations are happening behind closed doors with no means for civil society, parliaments, trade unions, or other interested public parties to give direct input; every new statement or position mentioned in the documents provides us with the much-needed transparency, enabling a broad and informed debate about the TiSA. Without these documents, we would not know what our governments are negotiating.
  4. What are the main findings in these leaked documents?
    November 2016: Our analysis focuses on the paper on transparency while our cooperation partner, the German digital rights group netzpolitik.org, has had a look on the annex on telecommunication services. The main findings regarding transparency are that TiSA, next to CETA and TTIP, is another example of how free trade agreements are negotiated behind closed doors. The fact that transparency is proposed within the TiSA Agreement, and that this transparency is given not only to the parties but also to interested persons, should be first of all welcomed. But does this transparency in TiSA offer a genuine space for democracy and involvement of all concerned stakeholders on a level playing field? Or will transparency in TiSA give only some good equipped stakeholders the possibility for lobby activities? Given the concrete experiences during the TiSA negotiations, Greenpeace has to conclude: Transparency is not just a mockery in view of secret TiSA negotiations; it is much more about the TiSA Agreement abusing the important principle of transparency. Transparency as proposed in TiSA allows that corporations are informed early of planned measures and provided with opportunities for exerting their influence. At the same time, opportunities for TiSA signatories to provide transparency on their own terms are restricted.Regarding telecommunication services: The in secrecy negotiated TiSA trade agreement has a direct impact on our privacy, it threatens the protection of network neutrality and could further reduce the security levels of software. In the event of the USA pushing through some crucial points, there is a threat of a lowering of our privacy levels and even more spam. In TiSA trade is placed above fundamental rights. So an intense public debate is necessary in order for industry lobbyists not to take the lead.September 2016: The main findings regarding energy services by Greenpeace can be found in this publication. Other organisations have also published their analyses and comments on other subjects. They can also be found on the pages of the different chapters of the leaks.
  5. How did Greenpeace Netherlands get these documents?
    Greenpeace Netherlands will not disclose the origins of the documents. The original text has been typed again and obvious spelling and grammar errors, possibly put there deliberately as markers to identify the origin in case of a leak, have been removed. Other apparent textual or formatting-related markers were removed as well. None of these adjustments have altered the content of the text in any way.
  6. Can I see the original documents?
    Greenpeace Netherlands does not offer access to the original documents, as they most probably contain ‘markers’ in the form of deliberate typos or formatting, put there to identify the origin of the documents in case of a leak.Via tisa-leaks.org and ttip-leaks.org everyone can see a cleaned copy of the original leaks.
  7. How many pages did Greenpeace Netherlands receive and how much of the entire negotiation do they cover?
    November 2016: Greenpeace Netherlands got 7 different documents which encompass in the re-typed version 67 pages in total. As the negotiations are not finalised it is hard to estimate how much percent of the final agreement the leaked documents represent. As an example, the General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS), the predecessor of TISA, has 35 pages without country specific annexes. The country specific annexes will have more pages than the core text of the agreement. The recently published 2nd revised offer by the European Union in the context of the “Trade in Services Agreement – TiSA” in November 2016 contains alone 147 pages. The CETA agreement, as an example, has with annexes around 1600 pages.September 2016: Greenpeace Netherlands got 22 different documents which encompass 134 pages in total. As the negotiations are not finalised it is hard to estimate how much percent of the final agreement the leaked documents represent. As an example, the General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS), the predecessor of TISA, has 35 pages without country specific annexes. The country specific annexes can have more pages than the core text of the agreement. The recently published revised offer by the European Union in the context of the “Trade in Services Agreement – TiSA” in May 2016 contains alone 162 pages. The CETA agreement has with annexes around 1600 pages.
  8. Are the documents complete?
    All the published documents seem to be complete.
  9. How old are the documents?
    November 2016: The oldest document is from 13 September 2016, the newest from 14 October 2016.September 2016: The oldest document is from May 2012, the newest from July 2016.
  10. Have these documents been published before or made publicly available?
    The documents are secret and therefore have not been made publicly available by any governmental organisation. However, Wikileaks has leaked versions of TiSA chapters and annexes. Given the broad impact TiSA will have on people and the planet, it is pretty scandalous that no official information is provided and that the public is informed only via leaks.
  11. Didn’t Wikileaks already leak these documents?
    November 2016: Five of the documents were leaked previously by Wikileaks, but in all cases, Greenpeace Netherlands is releasing newer versions of these documents.

    September 2016: Five of the documents were leaked previously by Wikileaks (chapters 2, 3, 4, 5 & 7), but in three of these cases, Greenpeace Netherlands is releasing newer versions of these documents (chapters 3, 5 & 7).

  12. How do you know the documents are genuine?
    After receiving the documents, Greenpeace Netherlands analysed them and compared them to existing documents. Verification is done to our best knowledge by comparing the newer documents with older versions of the same document, which are available at Wikileaks, and by comparing them with reports of the negotiation rounds. We are focusing on the annexes on services related to energy and mining and we sure that the annex leaked by us is true. To give 100 percent verification is not possible without putting a high risk on our source.
  13. Why did Greenpeace Netherlands choose to release the documents?
    Greenpeace Netherlands has released the documents to facilitate a proper democratic debate about the texts. The secrecy surrounding the negotiating process, which started over four years ago, is counter to the democratic principles of the EU, the US, and many of the other participating countries.
  14. Isn’t leaking these confidential documents harmful to the negotiations?
    Greenpeace Netherlands holds the position that any improvement in transparency must fulfill at least the following principles: greater public access to TiSA negotiating documents; more active disclosure of documents; more balanced and transparent public participation throughout the negotiating process.
  15. What are Greenpeace’s demands?
    Trade policy negotiations carried out by our democratically elected governments must be done in the name of the people, and not in those of a few privileged corporations. The public must know what is being negotiated so we can have an informed public debate to shape policies that work for people and the planet. Trade policy can no longer be made in isolation from other public policy goals and international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement and the Almaty Guidelines on Promoting the Application of the Principles of the Aarhus Convention in International Forums. Trade and liberalisation policies must be treated as a means to an end, not an end itself. Greenpeace demands an end to secret negotiations and a start of a public debate.

About TiSA

  1. What does TiSA stand for and what is it?
    The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a proposed trade treaty among 23 Parties, including the European Union and the United States. The European Union is negotiating on behalf of its 28 member states, so the number of involved countries is now around 50, with Argentina and Brazil recently announcing their intent to join the TiSA talks. These countries include both rich and poorer countries, ranging from Australia to Pakistan. All TiSA parties are also a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is the international body for trade negotiations and having already an agreement on service called GATS or General Agreement on Trade in Services. GATS exists since 1995.Trade agreements can be done on a bilateral, plurilateral or international level. TiSA is a “plurilateral agreement”, which has a narrower group of signatories than an international agreement. While TiSA is currently being negotiated only by a smaller group of countries, the idea is to integrate it in the framework of the WTO and to open it for membership to the remaining WTO members, which then can only accept the agreement, thereby massively expanding its scope. Therefore it will have an impact on all current 164 WTO members.The global consequences of TiSA could be be disastrous, especially for developing countries joining the treaty at a later point. Unanimity vote among initial TiSA parties is needed if a new member applies for membership. Therefore new members of TiSA will be confronted with demands from all initial TiSA-parties.
  2. What is the focus of the TiSA negotiations?
    The agreement aims at liberalising the supply of services such as public services and services related to energy, finance, healthcare, and transport. TiSA aims to include all service sectors except air-traffic rights (the rules on where and how airlines can carry passengers and freight between countries) and services that only governments provide, such as justice, policing or defense. Like GATS, TiSA provides a framework of general rules for the terms and conditions individual TiSA members set for suppliers from other countries before they can provide services in that TiSA member’s market. In other words, TiSA members will be limited by this agreement in their right to regulate to the full extent they see fit. The way this deal is being negotiated benefits big corporations active in the service sector. This agreement will affect the services we use on a daily basis, such as transportation, healthcare, energy, and should not be dismissed as a highly technical trade agreement left only to trade experts.
  3. Why are the negotiations behind closed doors?
    When the European Commission was asked if the TiSA negotiations were secret, its answer was: “No. Trade negotiations are not held in public, but they are not secret.” They are right, in a way: the public is not informed, but the negotiations are not secret for everyone. Big business industries are consulted beforehand (see for example, here) and their positions included in negotiating strategies, while civil society, parliamentarians, trade unions, regulating agencies, services users and others are not informed about the agenda or the different positions before a negotiating round, are much less consulted while forming negotiating positions. There is little meaningful information officially and publicly published. Even the European Commission’s mandate to negotiate TiSA, given by EU member states, was only published two years after the fact.It is worth pointing out that trade negotiations have historically always taken place behind closed doors, making corporate lobbying much easier to hide and much harder to control. This is in stark contrast to the UN Climate Negotiations, which happen in public with relatively open access for NGOs and other civil society groups.
  4. How many people are affected?
    TTIP: Over 830 million people in both the EU and USA.
    CETA: Over 545 million people in both the EU and Canada.
    TiSA: At the moment, TiSA would affect the lives of more than 2 billion people. Since TiSA is an open-platform agreement and members have explicitly stated the desire to include additional countries, that number could go up in the future.TiSA members account for about 70% of the global services industry. Services account for roughly three-fourths of economic activity and jobs in Europe. But there has been little public debate about trade and services, much less than trade agreement covering goods, such as TTIP, CETA and TPP. Decisions affecting the majority of European jobs must be subject to public debate and knowledge.
  5. What are the biggest risks/dangers of TISA and why?
    Like TTIP, CETA and TPP before it, the process for negotiating TiSA lacks transparency and any form of democratic process. Because public interest is not involved or taken into account, this increases the risk that the further service sector liberalisation will diminish TiSA members’ right to regulate (see below for further details on the dangers of liberalisation rules).TiSA’s other big threat is that it bypasses the international World Trade Organization (WTO). By negotiating outside of the WTO, TiSA members are aiming to firmly establish trade in service rules, and then apply them within the WTO framework by “inviting” other countries to join afterwards. This approach is called “multilateration” but its effect is to keep most of the countries from the Global South out of the negotiations, and thus out of rule-setting.
  6. How could our lives change if TiSA becomes legally binding?
    Deregulation and privatisation of public services: The only public services that are excluded are those provided in the “exercise of governmental authority and not supplied either on a commercial basis, or in competition with one or more service providers”. In reality these clauses would limit the exception to some basic public services like administration and judicial or police services. But essential public services such as education or health services are not covered by this clause.TiSA forces governments to liberalise services and force public services to compete in equal conditions with private ones. This will lead unequivocally to public services operating according to market rules, and hence disregarding their universal, accessible and solidary nature.
  7. When will a deal be reached?
    The original idea was to conclude the deal at a Ministerial Meeting which was planned for the 5-6 December 2016. Both and an additional previous 22nd negotiations round which was foreseen to start at the 28 November 2016 have been cancelled on 18 November 2016. The reasons for the cancellation are a) the participants would not be able to resolve their core differences, and b) US President-elect Trump – or the uncertainty due to the change of Administration in Washington. But they decided to have most likely a 3-4 days technical meeting in the second week of December 2016 (between 6-9 December 2016)
  8. What are the environmental risks associated with TiSA?
    As TiSA will cover all services sectors with few exemptions, and will be another tool to restrict states’ right to regulate, it is likely to have various consequences for the environment and climate protection.
  9. What other problems are there with TiSA?
    Under TiSA, liberalisation of services would become the default option for services, even in sectors where liberalisation would be contrary to the public interest. This is called the “negative list” approach, or more informally, the “list or lose it” approach, when listing only the exceptions, and opening all other sectors to liberalisation, including future sectors that are not yet invented or considered. This limits elected governments’ ability to act in the public interest based on changing circumstances.
  10. What, and for whom, would be the economic advantages of TiSA?
    The countries behind TiSA account for 70% of world trade in services and are looking to increase their share. As in the case of TTIP and CETA, the official promise is that TiSA will create growth and jobs and lower prices for consumers. In the words of the EU Commission: “The EU is the world’s largest exporter of services with tens of millions of jobs throughout Europe in the services sector. Making it easier for EU firms to export services to other countries will help secure growth and jobs here in the EU. And making it possible for firms from outside Europe to offer their services in the EU will increase choice and lower prices for businesses and consumers alike”.Or in our words: big business is behind TiSA and these corporations, not the average worker, will profit from this agreement.A “trade sustainability impact assessment (TSIA)”, a routine procedure for EU trade negotiations, is not finished yet and behind schedule. Normally impact assessments can help predict how trade agreements will affect GDP and job growth. It is worth pointing out that these impact assessment do not generally get it right. The official assessments cited by the EU Commission for CETA used models that assumed full unemployment (the EU has almost 10% unemployment) and no change in income distribution. Predictions regarding how trade agreements will benefit GDP have often been way off the mark; NAFTA was supposed to increase GDPs in Canada, the US and Mexico by 10.6%, 2.1% and 13.1% respectively, but later studies could find no visible impact on economic growth in any of these countries.
  11. What is Greenpeace Netherlands’ alternative to TiSA?
    The global trade regime should shift away from liberalisation to sustainable development. To achieve this, international trading rules should promote environmental, social and human well-being. A redesigned trade system should set the conditions for peace, security and solidarity, protecting the public interest against threats to health, the environment and human rights. It should be democratic and inclusive, and not grant privileged treatment for multinational corporations, but rather guarantee their accountability through the enforceable protection of human and social rights, and the environment.Any future trade agreement should have the objectives and measures of the Paris Agreement at its heart, not as a mere afterthought. Trade needs to speed up our transition to a renewable future — i.e. by facilitating access renewable technology for developing countries — rather than slow it down by hampering government ability to act and introduce climate-friendly policies.