[Techdirt] EU Re-Think Following Discovery Of Major Flaw In CETA Shows The Benefits Of Transparency
The Canada-European Union trade agreement (CETA) finds itself in a strange situation. Although Canada and the EU announced that "a political agreement" on the key elements had been reached, there has still been no formal release of the text. Fortunately, we have had several leaks of CETA documents, handily gathered on a new site devoted to them (and to those of the TAFTA/TTIP talks). One of the most recent leaks is of the chapter dealing with corporate sovereignty. It's dated February 14, and shows a large number of alternative versions, which indicates that despite the "political agreement", CETA is far from done. [...]
We don't know, because we don't have a full copy of the latest CETA draft. If we did, then independent experts could go through it and warn of other flawed passages, thus avoiding serious problems in years to come when it is too late to change anything.
This, then, is another key reason why negotiating texts must be made available as they are drafted, not after they have been signed: Linus' Law, that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow," applies to international agreements as well as to software code. But the big difference is that for programming, it's a question of how well code runs; with things like CETA, TTIP and TPP, what's at stake is the potentially huge economic and social damage that can be caused by loopholes and carelessly-worded clauses in these far-reaching international agreements.