Tuesday

16th Jul 2019

EU and US continue trade talks despite French criticism

  • Hollande spoke to a meeting of French ambassadors on Tesday (Photo: French presidency)

France’s president Francois Hollande on Tuesday (30 August) said that France could not support the agreement at this stage, two days after Germany's vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel called the US-EU trade talks a failure.

"The discussions right now on the trade deal between Europe and the United States can not reach an agreement by the end of the year,” Hollande told French ambassadors.

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

  • Malmstroem: “I do not agree that TTIP negotiations have failed” (Photo: European Commission)

"France prefers to look things in the face and not to cultivate the illusion that it would be possible to conclude an agreement before the end of the mandate of the US president," he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, French trade minister Matthias Fekl had said that France, at an EU ministers meeting in September, would demand "the pure, simple and definitive halt of these negotiations."

US president Barack Obama’s term comes to an end in January.

The Republican candidate to succeed him, Donald Trump, is very critical of trade arrangements, but the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has also been lukewarm about TTIP - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

But the European Commission continued to insist on Tuesday that the deal was not dead.

Asked about Hollande's comments, a commission spokesman said: “The ball is still rolling, we are working on the basis of a unanimous mandate given by the 28 member states.”

“We are not negotiating to weaken European standards, our environmental standards, our way of life”.

He added: ”Our ambition is to obtain a more universal recognition of our standards, we are involved in a structured process, we are working in good faith to conclude it and then member states and institutions will have an opportunity to assess it.”

Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, who is in charge of the negotiations, tweeted that she would hold a video conference with her American counterpart, US trade representative Michael Froman on Tuesday.

"Negotiations continue,” she wrote.

According to Reuters, she also told a group of reporters in Brussels the same day: “I do not agree that TTIP negotiations have failed”.

"Many countries have contacted us today to ask questions and say that they don't agree with the French. So there will be a debate on these issues," she added.

On Monday, Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert had also voiced the German chancellor's continued support of the talks.

Time pressure

US elections aside, pressure on the trade negotiations is also rising as Germany and France will hold elections within a year.

The mainstream parties in France facing a formidable challenge from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who fiercely opposes TTIP.

In Germany, public sentiment has been sceptical about the benefits of the trade deal. The social democratic SDP party is also opposed to it.

For her part, Luxembourg’s Viviane Reding, a former EU commissioner who is now an MEP with the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) on Tuesday also called on the Grand Duchy to demand the end of the “useless" TTIP negotiations.

"Let’s defend our trade interests with CETA as blueprint!,” she tweeted referring to the EU’s trade deal with Canada, due to be signed in October.

The Dutch trade minister equally expressed doubts about whether TTIP is realistic. Lilianne Ploumen told Dutch broadcaster NOS that without concessions from America, the treaty will not happen.

She said that Europe had made demands on food safety and environmental and social issues, which needed to be met before the treaty can become a reality. "Without concessions from the Americans, I don’t see it happening,” she stated.

Entrenchment

Since the 2013 launch of negotiations, the talks have been criticised for lack of transparency and fears that the EU would lower its environmental and labour standards to please the Americans.

There was also widespread concern about tribunals where foreign investors would be able to sue a host country government if its policies breached the agreement and caused losses to the investor.

The commission however argued that a successful deal would generate GDP growth in Europe and set the standard for international trade.

The EU and the US have also said TTIP would bind them more closely together in strategic terms, at a time of uncertainty over Russia's next move in Europe and over the rise of new world powers, such as China.

France wants EU-US trade talks stopped

French trade minister called for "the pure, simple and definitive halt of these negotiations" because France was not backing them anymore.

EU-US trade deal not quite dead

EU institutions, chancellor Merkel's spokesman and some EU leaders rebuke German politician's statements that TTIP negotiations have "failed".

Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

European Commission presidential-hopeful Ursula von Der Leyen delivered her key appeal in the European Parliament to secure the post. Her appeal appeared to appease most of the political groups - but a lack of specifics, and opposition from Greens remain.

News in Brief

  1. Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'

Opinion

Weber: Six proposals in wake of Spitzenkandidat process

I will not lament the decision-making process that resulted in a package deal on the new leadership in Europe. I respect this result, which was in accordance with the treaties and therefore not undemocratic, albeit unsatisfactory.

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  2. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  3. EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  4. The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  5. Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  6. Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  7. Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money
  8. Von der Leyen's EU vote far from sure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us