Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

EU-US trade deal not quite dead

  • Sigmar Gabriel faced criticism on Monday over his remarks that TTIP negotiations had "failed". (Photo: Reuters)

News of the death of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, have been largely exaggerated.

At least, that was the substance of EU reactions to the statements made by Germany’s vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel last Sunday (28 August).

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Gabriel, who is also the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party, said that TTIP talks ”de facto have failed, even though nobody is really admitting it”.

But the EU chief TTIP negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero, on Monday, referred to Mark Twain to assure press that the free-trade talks are still alive.

"Remember what Mark Twain said," he noted, on the American writer's quip that reports of his death were "greatly exaggerated."

Another part of EU Commission also told journalists that Gabriel wasn't in charge of negotiatons.

”We are,” said spokesman Margaritis Schinas. He recalled that EU member states had unanimously renewed the Commission’s mandate to do so at a European Council in late June.

”The ball keeps rolling on TTIP”, Schinas said.

He said that the commission "stands ready to close the deal by the end of the year," adding however that it would not "sacrifice Europe’s safety, health, social and data protection standards or our cultural diversity on the altar of free trade."

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, meanwhile, said there was “no disagreement” in the German government about the fact that the EU and the US must still bridge “several important questions”.

But it was right to continue talks, as ”quite often the decisive things only happen in the final round”, Seibert said.

A few EU politicians, although not that many, also threw their weight behind TTIP.

Sweden’s EU and trade minister Ann Linde - a fellow Social Democrat - said ”nothing” warranted such a statement such as Gabriel's.

Finland’s foreign trade minister Kai Mykkanen from the centre-right National Coalition Party also took Gabriel’s declaration with a pinch of salt.

”Chancellor Merkel and the rest of the EU leadership support TTIP, and negotiations continue,” he said.

Analysis

Doubts hang over EU investment plan's future

Questions of value for money and a lack of transparency complicate adding almost €200 billion more and extending the Juncker investment plan to 2020.

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