Protest against US and Canada trade deals kick off in Brussels
SEVERAL thousand demonstrators gathered outside EU institutions in Brussels to protest against huge transAtlantic trade deals linking Europe with Canada and the United States.
The protests came after mass rallies in German cities on September 17 against the European Union’s planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.
Belgian police told AFP that over 5000 people responded to the call in the EU capital, with most of the main avenues around the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, closed off to traffic.
“TTIP, CETA, we don’t want them,” protesters shouted, as police helicopters hovered loudly overhead.
“We are sure to be the big losers. This will be a shock to agriculture,” said farmer Stephane Delogne.
The EU and US began negotiating TTIP in 2013, aiming to create the world’s biggest free trade market of 850 million consumers.
But the talks have become bogged down amid widespread fears in Europe that the deal would undercut the 28-nation bloc’s standards in key areas such as health and welfare.
A new round of talks is due in October, with US President Barack Obama hoping a deal can be concluded before he leaves office in January.
Cecilia Malmstroem, the EU commissioner for trade, warned that reaching that deadline “became less likely as time went on”.
“There will a treaty with the US but maybe after a natural pause to give time to a new administration in the US,” Ms Malmstroem told RTBF radio in Belgium.
Ms Malmstroem also defended the Canada deal, which has already been negotiated and is due for signature in October. –