Saturday

8th Aug 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding

Six Polish cities that declared themselves as "LGBTI-free zones" have been denied funding under the EU's Town Twinning programme for failing to meet the standards of "equal access and non-discrimination".

EU states agree on corona hygiene standards for aviation

German transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, announced that EU member states have agreed on common hygiene standards on planes and airports - as major airlines are calling for a joint coronavirus-testing programme in order to resume trans-Atlantic travel.

MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform

MEPs adopted on Thursday the Mobility Package covering truck drivers' working conditions - rejecting amendments pushed by central and eastern member states. However, the European Commission warned that two new rules might be not align with the Green Deal.

News in Brief

  1. Germany breached rights of Madeleine McCann suspect
  2. EU offers trade perks to Lebanon
  3. Germany charges four ex-Audi chiefs on emissions cheating
  4. UK quarantines Belgium, as European infections climb
  5. Bulgaria's Borissov mulls resignation
  6. EU prolongs anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel
  7. Swedish economy contracted less during April to June
  8. EU offers help to Lebanon after port explosion

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Iraqis paid €2,000 each agree to leave Greece
  2. EU's most sustainable islands are Danish 'Sunshine Islands'
  3. Worrying rows over future EU chemicals policy
  4. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  5. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  6. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  7. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery
  8. Azerbaijan ambassador to EU shared anti-George Floyd post

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us