France seeks halt to EU-US trade talks
FRANCE said yesterday it will call on the European Commission to suspend negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States, which it complained are unfairly weighted in favour of the Americans.
“There is no more political support in France for these negotiations” and “France calls for an end to these negotiations,” junior minister for trade Matthias Fekl said.
The EU and the US began work on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in 2013, aiming to create the world’s largest free-trade area by the time President Barack Obama leaves office in January.
But the talks have got bogged down amid widespread suspicion in the 28-nation EU that a deal would undercut the bloc’s standards in key areas such as health and welfare.
The setbacks have raised serious doubts that it will be achieved by the end of the year as hoped.
Mr Fekl said there is an imbalance in the negotiations in favour of the US.
“The Americans give nothing or just crumbs ... That is not how negotiations are done between allies,” he said. “We need a clear and definitive halt to these negotiations in order to restart on a good foundation.”
France will make this case at a meeting of foreign trade ministers in Bratislava in September.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has previously said it would be “impossible” for the two sides to conclude negotiations by the end of this year.
And Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel had said that the negotiations were effectively dead in the water.
“The talks with the US have de facto failed because we Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands. Nothing is moving forward,” he said.
But the European Commission on August 29 rejected the German claims and insisted the talks remained on track. –
German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel (right) says the TTIP talks are effectively dead in the water.