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Luke 'Ming' Flanagan refuses to take down 'reading room farce' video

He put up a video earlier this week showing his difficulty accessing documents related to secret US/EU trade negotiations.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

A VIDEO BY Irish MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan criticising the secretive process of viewing classified documents relating to a massive US-EU trade deal has been viewed nearly 70,000 times online.

In the video – entitled ‘TTIP reading room farce’ – Flanagan says he is banned from transcribing notes verbatim from texts relating to the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

On his Twitter and Facebook pages yesterday, Flanagan said staff in the European Parliament told him to remove his video. He said he won’t be complying with the request.

Luke

“The reason given (for removing the video) is that no permission for filming was received from the parliament,” Flanagan told TheJournal.ie.

An assistant of MEP Bernd Lange appears in the video, and Lange wants her name removed, the MEP claimed.

“It’s important to note that all assistants are already openly identified on the EP website,” Flanagan added.

The real problem Mr Lange has is that as a ‘socialist and democrat’ his “great achievement” in creating this reading room  has been exposed as a farce. The truth hurts.

The video has been shared over 4,000 times online and viewed over 69,000 times. We have edited the video to protect the assistant’s privacy.

Critical

Flanagan has been vocal in criticising what he calls the lack of transparency around talks to forge a so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a series of trade negotiations which are being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and the US.

Both Washington and Brussels want the mega-deal completed this year before US President Barack Obama leaves office. However, the agreement-in-the-making has faced mounting opposition on both sides of the Atlantic.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace published 284 pages of classified documents online to “shine a light” on the secret talks, which would be the world’s largest bilateral trade and investment agreement.

Germany Europe US Free Trade People read documents in a 'TTIP reading room' set up by Greenpeace in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. Source: AP

Greenpeace said the papers show, for example, that the US wants to be able to scrap existing EU rules in areas such as food labelling or approval of dangerous chemicals if they spell barriers to free trade.

Flanagan’s video shows him directly before and after paying a visit to the European Parliament TTIP reading room, where he said he read documents which have already been agreed upon by the EU and the US.

He said he wasn’t allowed bring in any electronic devices to record the documents and afterwards demonstrated how he had to sign a solemn declaration that he will not write down what is in the documents word for word.

“If I write down the documents verbatim and then I make their contents known verbatim, I will potentially prevent any MEP from seeing these documents again,” he said.

As an MEP, I’m being asked to do a dodgy job of transcribing this. I’ve also been told I can tell it in my own words. Well if I choose that my own words be identical to the words on these [documents], I’ll have broken some law.
Welcome to the European Union.

Comment has been sought from the European Parliament in relation to their request to take down the video but was not forthcoming at time of publication.

European Parliament rules outline that breaches of protocol can lead to a ban on the person filming or using camera equipment in the parliament for up to two years.

Additional reporting – Michelle Hennessy

Read: Greenpeace leaks secret TTIP files, attacks “transfer of power from people to big business”

Read: Think Ireland getting sued by a tobacco company is odd? Then worry about this EU-US trade deal…

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