No compromise from US, no TTIP with EU this year – France & Germany on trade deal
There will be no deal this year between the EU and US on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), says French President Francois Hollande. Several French and German ministers echoed the statement, citing US unwillingness to compromise.
"The negotiations are bogged down, positions have not been respected, it's clearly unbalanced," Hollande said in a speech to French ambassadors.
According to the French president, there will not be any agreement on TTIP “by the end of the year.”
Earlier, Minister of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl told French media that the current TTIP talks should be halted and new ones should begin.
“There is no more political support in France for these negotiations,” and “France calls for an end to these negotiations,” Fekl told RMC radio.
One of the problems of the deal lies in the US attitude towards the negotiations, he said.
“The Americans give nothing or just crumbs… That is not how negotiations are done between allies,” Fekl said. “We need a clear and definitive halt to these negotiations in order to restart on a good foundation.”
France “demands a halt to TAFTA [Transatlantic Free Trade Area] and TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership],” he tweeted.
Fekl said that France will raise the case at a meeting of EU foreign trade ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, in September.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that US and EU still are “far away” and have work to do on the standards of the deal.
According to German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the unwillingness of Washington to compromise in fact halted the deal.
“I believe that the Americans have actively ended TTIP. I don't see any willingness to compromise with the Europeans,” Gabriel said.
On Sunday, Gabriel admitted that TTIP negotiations had essentially failed.
“In my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” the minister told ZDF broadcaster. “[They] have failed because we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to American demands.”
The deal still has backing in some quarters, however, with a number of EU officials speaking out in support of it.
Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda believes that the TTIP talks must continue.
“TTIP will be sealed. It is inevitable," he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper. “We have to carry on. This accord is essential for Italy.”
In the meantime, a spokesman for US Trade Representative Michael Froman told Der Spiegel newspaper that the talks “are in fact making steady progress.”
Washington has been insisting that the free trade deal be signed before the end of 2016, but it has encountered strong opposition from a number of European nations.
The TTIP is a EU-US free trade treaty project that was dubbed as controversial the moment it was proposed three years ago and has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability ever since.
The proposed deal aims at promoting trade and multilateral economic growth by creating the world’s largest free-trade zone. Backers say it will help small businesses opening up markets and making customs processes easier, while trade tariffs on products would be reduced.
But critics of TTIP fear big corporations will be the only ones to profit from the deal, with corporate interest coming even ahead of national interest.
According to the director of the group Global Justice Now, Nick Dearden, the TTIP “is a very dangerous trade deal which is less about trade and more about big business taking control over our regulations.”
“There is so much pressure on both sides of the Atlantic,” he told RT, “The negotiating teams… are trying to make it look like they are meeting the will of the people and also doing what the deal was all about – handing big chunks of our democracy to the rule of big business.”
Anti-TTIP activist Sakina Sheikh said negotiations on TTIP should not be held at all.
“We have over 3 million signatures saying ‘This is not a deal we want.’ Not just for the reasons that France and Germany talk about, which is about regulations. But because of the public services, because of the setting up of corporate courts and giving corporations too much power. I think it’s about time we let TTIP die,” she told RT.