Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

Europe needs TTIP to avoid loss of influence, Germany warns

  • Gabriel - EU needs a trade deal with the US to avoid losing economic influence. (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Failure to agree an ambitious trade deal with the US would cost the EU influence in the global economy, Germany’s economy minister said on Monday (23 February).

Speaking at a business conference in Berlin alongside EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, Sigmar Gabriel said it was a matter of "regret" that in Germany “so much is said about ‘chlorine chickens’ and too little about the geopolitical significance” of the proposed trans-atlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).

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

  • A ‘Stop TTIP’ petition has been signed by 1.5 million Europeans. (Photo: Emma Rothaar)

Following the collapse of the Doha round of talks at the World Trade Organisation aimed at reaching a global accord on trade, the EU has opened talks on a series of bilateral trade agreements, including with South Korea, Canada, Japan and China.

For its part, the US is close to finalising an agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with Japan.

But an EU-US trade accord, on which the eighth round of talks took place in Brussels last month, could create the largest tariff-free trade bloc in the world, and set the basis for regulatory standards in world trade.

Gabriel signaled that his centre-left SPD party - the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition - was ready to accept the inclusion of controversial investor protection provisions in TTIP, provided that the process of mediating and arbitrating claims was reformed.

"We need investor protection regime for a new generation,” he said, adding that this would allow Europe to set the "gold standard" for future trade deals.

Gabriel called for the creation of a public trade and investment court to arbitrate on claims and allow appeals against rulings. Replacing private arbitration with a kind of public independent trade and investment court would be more transparent and enable appeals against arbitration rulings. Whoever lost the proceedings should bear the costs.

The process - known as investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) - has become one of the most hotly-disputed elements in the trade talks. Critics of the mediation process say it is secretive and allows companies to sue governments that pass social protection legislation that could harm their investments.

“I believe it is possible to find a balanced investment system. One that protects investments but provides the cast iron guarantees people need,” said Malmstrom.

2015 deadline

Trade officials have been given a 2015 deadline to secure a draft agreement on TTIP, which will then need to be ratified by the European and national parliaments, as well as the US Congress.

Gabriel had initially called for ISDS clauses to be left out of an agreement, telling a Bundestag debate last autumn that the inclusion of investor protection in an EU-Canada trade agreement was “not approvable”, but his position, as well as that of the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group of MEPs, appears to have softened.

However, TTIP faces vocal opposition from a number of NGOs, trade unions and consumer groups who say it will weaken consumer and environmental protection and social standards. In a press statement on Monday, the ‘Stop TTIP’ alliance said that its pan-EU petition calling on the European Commission to halt the talks had been signed by 1.5 million Europeans.

In Brussels, the European Parliament’s trade and development committees are among those holding a series of hearings this week on the TTIP negotiations.

Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan

Turkish NBA basketball star, Enes Kanter, gave up joining teammates in a London match over fears of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reach into the EU.

News in Brief

  1. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  2. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  3. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack
  4. 'Don't look for answers to Brussels', EU tells UK
  5. Germany warns UK not to 'misuse' EU patience on Brexit
  6. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  7. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  8. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report

Agenda

Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK

Germany and France are set to reinforce their alliance as the engine-house of European integration, while Britain continues to struggle to leave the EU.

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan
  2. 'Meme ban' still on table in EU copyright bill, says MEP
  3. Brexit power grab by MPs hangs over May's 'Plan B'
  4. Polish mayor's funeral marred by Tusk TV dispute
  5. Salvini and Kaczynski - the new 'axis' powers?
  6. Seven member states miss climate plan deadline
  7. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  8. Germany led way on EU rights protection

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us