France demands end to TTIP talks
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.