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EU to release more US trade pact documents

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(STRASBOURG) - The EU will release more documents about a huge but controversial trade pact with the United States that has been opposed by campaigners, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Tuesday.

Talks on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been hobbled by concerns over transparency about a key component of the deal.

Malmstroem said all documents that are shared by the European Commission with member states and European Parliament would now be made public.

Until now, the Commission -- the EU's executive branch leading negotiations on the pact -- has only made a selection available.

"I hope it's an important start," she told reporters in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is holding a regular sitting.

"Even if TTIP is a very transparent negotiation compared to all others, we can do much more. We are giving away a lot of documents so civil society can know what we are talking about."

The Swede said she was committed to the move because she "comes from a country where transparency is in our DNA".

The ambitious pact, which would link the world's two biggest economies, has drawn sharp criticism by labour unions and activists and confidence has dimmed that a deal can emerge.

Criticism has focused on the so-called investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, which would allow firms to sue national governments if they feel that local laws -- such as health and safety regulations -- violate the trade deal and threaten their investments.

Malmstroem will travel to Washington on December 9 to meet US trade representative Michael Froman for talks on the deal, while the next round of formal negotiations will take place in Brussels in February.

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