France de­mands end to TTIP talks

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

France plans to call for an end to the tran­sat­lantic free trade talks in Septem­ber, so the ne­go­ti­a­tions can be restarted “on a good ba­sis”, ac­cord­ing to EurAc­tiv France.

The French Sec­re­tary of State for For­eign Trade, Matthias Fekl, has said there is “no longer any po­lit­i­cal sup­port” in Paris for the Tran­sat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship (TTIP) ne­go­ti­a­tions that kicked off be­tween Europe and the United States in July 2013.

“At the end of Septem­ber, at the meet­ing of for­eign trade min­is­ters in Bratislava, I will ask, in the name of France, for the TTIP ne­go­ti­a­tions to be stopped,” Fekl said. An in­for­mal meet­ing of the EU’s heads of state (mi­nus the United King­dom) is planned for 23 Septem­ber in Slo­vakia.

“France wants the ne­go­ti­a­tions to be stopped, purely, sim­ply and defini­tively,” Fekl said. “Why? Be­cause they were started in a spirit of opac­ity. We need to put a clean, clear and de­fin­i­tive stop to the process so we can restart the dis­cu­sions on a good ba­sis. ”

He jus­ti­fied this de­mand by the fact that the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which have been car­ried out by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion on be­half of the mem­ber states, ap­peared to be loaded in favour of the Amer­i­can po­si­tions. The 14th round of ne­go­ti­a­tions was held in mid-July.

For the French sec­re­tary of state, the dis­cus­sions are not “wor­thy of the his­toric re­la­tion­ship” be­tween Europe and the United States. “The Amer­i­cans give noth­ing, or mere crumbs […], this is not how we should ne­go­ti­ate be­tween al­lies. ”

Ger­many’s Vice Chan­cel­lor and Econ­omy Min­is­ter, Sig­mar Gabriel, said that ne­go­ti­a­tions on TTIP were ef­fec­tively dead in the wa­ter and that TTIP was “fin­ished”, as the two par­ties had failed to agree on a sin­gle point in the 27 ne­go­ti­a­tion chap­ters. This dec­la­ra­tion was im­me­di­ately de­nounced by the Com­mis­sion.

Wash­ing­ton’s lead ne­go­tia­tor told the Ger­man weekly Der Spiegel that the TTIP ne­go­ti­a­tions were mak­ing steady progress. “The re­al­ity is that the ne­go­ti­a­tions are mov­ing for­ward,” Michael Fro­man said.

Brus­sels took the same line on Mon­day, say­ing it had re­ceived a man­date to ne­go­ti­ate the free trade deal with the US and that TTIP was still very much on the agenda.

The Com­mis­sion in­sisted, through spokesman Mara­gari­tis Schi­nas, that it stood ready to fi­nalise TTIP by the end of the year, af­ter a lead­ing Ger­man min­is­ter said the EU-US trade deal was dead in the wa­ter.

Schi­nas said that the Euro­pean ex­ec­u­tive also hopes to con­clude the talks this year, but not if it means sac­ri­fic­ing Euro­pean stan­dards on se­cu­rity, health, so­cial se­cu­rity, data pro­tec­tion or cul­tural di­ver­sity.

Barack Obama, who has also en­coun­tered vo­cif­er­ous op­po­si­tion to TTIP in the US, said he wants to con­clude the agree­ment be­fore the end of his sec­ond man­date in Jan­uary.

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