Monday

26th Feb 2024

France isolated as Germany ends opposition to US trade deal

  • Obama is coming to Berlin next week (Photo: Barack Obama)

Germany has dropped its opposition to starting talks on an EU-US free trade agreement, leaving France alone to fight for exemptions for European artists.

"Today, Germany has withdrawn its concerns and will approve a negotiating mandate for the EU commission on Friday," German economy ministry spokeswoman Julia Schwartz said on Wednesday (12 June) at a press conference in Berlin.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

EU trade ministers are to take a decision on the Union's free trade blueprint at a meeting in Luxembourg at the end of this week.

Schwartz noted that starting the free trade talks is a priority for US President Barack Obama.

She also said that internal US preparations for Washington's side of the negotiations are due to be wrapped up by 18 June, while Obama himself is to visit Berlin on 19 June.

Germany had earlier sided with France in saying that "culture" should be exempt from the new pact, in a bid to protect European film makers and musicians from being gobbled up by US competitors.

Its U-turn leaves France with only the European Parliament on its side.

But Paris has signalled it is ready to veto the EU mandate alone if need be.

France might still veto the EU decision on Frdi

"For France, if the audiovisual sector is not exempt, they will not agree," an EU diplomat told this website.

The contact noted that Paris disagrees with the European Commission, and now Germany, who say that if the EU calls of exemptions, then the US will start adding ones of its own.

"The US will exclude certain sectors anyway - they've already made clear that financial services will not be included in the talks. So there is really no reason why we should include culture," the EU diplomat said.

Germany is keen to press ahead despite revelations this week that US intelligence services are spying on German people's emails, online photos and chat logs to an astonishing extent.

Some MEPs have called for the EU to put a break on the trade talks until Washington comes clean on its so-called Prism surveillance programme.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday said there is plenty of time to tackle other questions because the trade talks will take "years" even if they begin shortly.

He added there should be no link between free trade and Prism.

"We've seen numerous press reports on Prism, our government has sent questions to the US administration and is now waiting for a reply," he said.

The German interior ministry has sent 16 questions to the US ambassador in Berlin, asking whether German citizens were specifically targeted and what is the legal basis for the surveillance, among other topics.

The German justice minister also sent a letter to her counterpart in the US, Eric Holder, and is expecting "a swift answer."

France threatens US trade veto over culture

The French government has dismissed as "naive" suggestions that a transatlantic trade deal with the US could substantially benefit the EU economy and take it out of crisis.

Opinion

EU-US trade - the value of shared values

The EU and the US will soon be launching negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and lnvestment Partnership, one of the most ambitious bilateral initiatives in the world to create jobs and growth through trade and investment.

Opinion

After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports

Two years of tragedies, with well over 100,000 Russian war crimes now registered, underscore the urgent need to stop international LNG investments in Russia that continue to fund Vladimir Putin's war chest.

Opinion

Blackmailing the Global South on EU carbon border tax won't work

According to the European Commission, CBAM is supposed to prevent "carbon leakage". In other words, it seeks to prevent European industries relocating to jurisdictions with less stringent environmental policies, while also incentivising carbon pricing and industrial decarbonisation abroad.

Latest News

  1. More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK
  2. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  3. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  4. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  5. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  6. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  7. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  8. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us