Wednesday

1st Mar 2017

Thousands protest in Brussels against EU-US trade ageement

Protestors gathered in front of an empty EU summit building on Friday (19 December) to demonstrate against the EU-US free trade pact talks.

A planned two-day summit in Brussels ended early on Thursday evening with EU leaders pledging to have the deal, which is set to remove trade tariffs and harmonise standards with the US, signed by the end of 2015.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But Sebastian Franco, one of the protest organisers at Alliance D-1920, a social movement opposed to the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), told this website their anti-free trade message had not been lost.

“It is the first time the summit finished so early, I wouldn’t say it was just because of us, but it was also because of us,” he said.

TTIP is stirring general controversy, with critics saying it will have a negative impact on a whole range of issues from the environment to energy and food.

The lack of transparency behind the deal-making with the Americans and its broader implications are among the long list of issues that worry the citizens across Europe, said Franco.

“The governments and lobbies are afraid, they feel resistance is growing, and we think they can lose this battle,” he said.

According to Franco, more than 3,000 people showed up.

Farmers had blocked off streets with around thirty tractors and set bails of hay alight as demonstrators ‘encircled’ the summit building in a symbolic display of resistance.

Effigies of EU leaders like Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel were burned. One banner, stretched across the side of the future seat of the European Council, had "Merry Christmas and happy austerity” written across it.

By noon, a heavy down pour of rain had dispersed the last remaining crowds with police and riot officers standing nearby and behind waist-high metal barricades.

The main demonstration was held without incident although two separate groups of protestors stormed the buildings of lobbying umbrella organisations FoodDrink Europe and BusinessEurope.

“What we want to achieve is to stop the negotiations and have transparency,” said one representative, who did not want to be named, from a Belgian-based pro-democracy organisation, La maison du peuple d'Europe.

Campaigners on Thursday had also obtained over one million signatures on a petition calling for EU-US trade talks to be halted and an EU trade deal with Canada to be scrapped.

The citizens' initiative requires a formal response from the European Commission if it reaches one million signatures.

EU-US trade talks in 'troubled waters'

EU-US trade talks are “in troubled waters” and need a “fresh start for parliament to approve an agreement”, its trade committee chairman has said.

Dutch plan global fund for safe abortion

The Dutch want to lead efforts to make up the shortfall in aid for safe abortions around the world, after Donald Trump announced the US would not fund such projects.

EU to tighten rules on social benefits

EU citizens working away from their home countries will face tougher hurdles if they need to claim benefits, under plans from the commission.

Column / Health Matters

The yin and yang of Chinese medicine

Can traditional Chinese medicine help the modern European patient? Malta thinks so, in a new agreement with China.

Visual Data

EU farming policy: The damage done by 20 years of inertia

The EU Commission will ask the public later this week how the common agricultural policy should be overhauled. Data from the past two decades reveals a catalogue of missed chances and failed reforms.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 20172018 European Year of Cultural Heritage Will Celebrate European History and Values
  2. UNICEFA Deadly Journey for Children: The Migration Route From North Africa to Europe
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan
  4. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  5. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  7. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  8. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  9. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  10. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow. Join Us on 23 March
  12. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen