Belfast Telegraph

Ambassador vows EU/US deal still on table

By Donal O'Donovan

The controversial European/US free trade deal is still being negotiated and will happen, the European Union's most senior diplomat to Washington has said.

The view of EU ambassador to the US David O'Sullivan contradicts weekend comments by German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, who effectively said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal was dead in the water.

The German economy minister said the talks had "de facto failed" because Europe rejected some US demands.

However, in Dublin yesterday David O'Sullivan rejected that view.

"We are continuing to work to see if this can be concluded this year with this (Obama) administration," he said at an event in Dublin.

Even if that timeline slips a deal will eventually be agreed, he said.

"I do believe this deal will be done. It needs to be done," Mr O'Sullivan said.

He rejected suggestions that a deal with the US would lead to lower standards in Europe, including in relation to food - a key stumbling block.

Politicians in the EU and the US would still set their own standards after any deal, he said. In Brussels, the European Commission also insisted that a trade deal is still on the table.

A commission spokesman said yesterday that it had a unanimous mandate from the bloc's 28 members to finalise negotiations on a free trade deal with the United States.

Asked to comment on Sigmar Gabriel's remarks, a European Commission spokesman said "the ball is still rolling" on TTIP.

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