New EU trade chief seeks transparency on US deal

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's incoming trade chief is vowing to pursue an ambitious free trade agreement with the United States but cautions the negotiations have to be more transparent to avoid a public backlash.

Sweden's Cecilia Malmstroem told lawmakers during a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament we must not negotiate "a secret deal behind people's backs."

Malmstroem, the 28-nation bloc's current home affairs commissioner, vows to continuously publish details about her meetings and grant EU lawmakers access to all documents underpinning the negotiations.

Malmstroem says she will carefully assess the negotiations with the U.S., which include sensitive issues like investor protection clauses, and warns that "substance must prevail over timing."

The incoming EU Commission, the bloc's executive arm, needs the EU Parliament's approval. Lawmakers, however, cannot veto specific commissioners.