Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

French TTIP complaints reflect growing EU anxiety

  • Public opposition to the deal is growing alongside the politicians' malaise (Photo: Peter Teffer)

French president Francois Hollande has given a damning verdict on the progress of free-trade negotiations with the US, reflecting a growing frustration among European politicians with American tactics.

Hollande said on Tuesday (3 May) that France simply could not accept the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in its current shape.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

”We do not support free trade without rules,” he told a conference celebrating the history of the French left.

It was the first time a head of state had spoken so clearly against the agreement, and it showed how difficult the negotiations have become.

Hours earlier, Hollande's trade minister Matthias Fekl said it was ”most likely” that the negotiations would stop.

Their statements, coming after the 13th round of negotiations last week, reflect widespread disappointment over a lack of progress, which Europeans attribute to growing American protectionism.

In the past, Hollande had called for a quick deal on TTIP. But lately he has bemoaned a lack of progress on agriculture and culture, two sectors France feels very strongly about.

Fekl also fretted over environmental concerns.

“It would make no sense to have completed [the international climate conference] in December in Paris, this great agreement for the environment, only to sign an agreement to unravel it all a few months later,” he told Le Monde.

Bernd Lange, the European parliament’s main TTIP negotiator, said the US had refused to budge over workers' rights or public procurement.

"That’s no basis for negotiations," he told Deutschlandradio Kultur on Tuesday.

”Internally we’ve said we’re going to give it a chance until July, but I can’t imagine the US will have a big change of heart. I’m expecting this won’t work out."

'A little stressed'

Scepticism also came from Sweden, one of the most TTIP-friendly European states.

Sweden’s enterprise minister Mikael Damberg told Europaportalen that seven of 13 chapters remained open after the last round of negotiations, which made him feel ”a little stressed”.

”We must accelerate the pace of negotiations," he said.

"Europe has come further with showing its positions while the Americans haven’t really shown their cards yet.”

He said the conduct of negotiations worried him more than the public resistance to TTIP.

According to the schedule, negotiations should finish during Barack Obama’s presidency. All the participating countries have the right to veto an agreement.

The European Commission said TTIP would be high on the trade council agenda scheduled for next week.

"The commission is aware of the positions and concerns of member states since we consult with them on a regular basis," a commission source told the EUobserver.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us