Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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".

Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Mali's foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop told the EU in Brussels that the lack of vision and planning following the Nato-led bombing campaign in Libya helped trigger the current migration and security crisis.

Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Mali's foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop told the EU in Brussels that the lack of vision and planning following the Nato-led bombing campaign in Libya helped trigger the current migration and security crisis.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban