Monday

17th Jun 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.

Investigation

The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Scientists say there is no acceptable dose to avoid brain damage. Its use is banned in several European countries. Yet its residues are found in fruit baskets, on dinner plates, and in human urine samples from all over Europe.

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

Interview

Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Juan Branco is a lawyer and co-author of a legal document submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing EU officials and member states of crimes against humanity for their migration policies. "Some people should have to go to prison."

Opinion

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  2. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  3. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  4. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  5. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  6. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  7. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  8. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us