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TTIP negotiations should stop, French government says

Published 30/08/2016

TTIP brought out health campaigners who were against the partnership
TTIP brought out health campaigners who were against the partnership

The French government is to call for an end to negotiations of the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement.

The commerce framework, planned between the European Union and the United States, is controversial because its critics say it will hand big business too much power.

Now Matthias Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, has said his country will call for an end to the deal, potentially kicking it into the long grass.

Mr Fekl told France’s RMC radio station that “we need a clear, clean, definitive stop” to the negotiations.

In a separate speech French president François Hollande said the deal would certainly not be completed before Barack Obama left office.

“France prefers to look things in the face,” he said in a diplomatic speech.

“These discussions cannot result in an agreement by the end of the year. The negotiations have bogged down, the positions have not been respected, the imbalance is obvious.”

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the TTIP is 'absolutely in Europe's interest'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the TTIP is 'absolutely in Europe's interest'

TTIP chart shows how far advanced EU-US trade deal negotiations really are

In May President Hollande said he would “never accept” the deal in its current guise. He they were too friendly to US businesses.

The latest negative noises emanating from France come just days after Germany economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said talks for TTIP had “de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it”.

Some Leave campagners cited TTIP as a reason for Britain leaving the European Union and it is not inconceivable that its unpopularity may have swung the vote.

Critics say one of the main concerns with TTIP is that it could allow multinational corporations to effectively “sue” governments for taking actions that might damage their businesses.

They claim US companies might be able to avoid having to meet various EU health, safety and environment regulations by challenging them in a quasi-court set up to resolve disputes between investors and states.

The UK was seen as one of the strongest supporters of TTIP in the EU, so its departure following the Brexit vote would remove one of the US's closest allies in the talks.

Kevin Smith a spokesperson for campaign group Global Justice Now, which opposes TTIP, said:

TTIP: the proposed free trade treaty could become the biggest such deal ever made
TTIP: the proposed free trade treaty could become the biggest such deal ever made

“The fact that TTIP has failed is testament to the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against it, the three million people who signed a petition calling for it to be scrapped, and the huge coalition of civil society groups, trade unions and activists who came together to stop it.

“TTIP would have resulted in a massive corporate power grab, and sovereign democracies across the EU would have been deeply compromised.

“We’re still not out of the woods in terms of dealing the EU’s legacy of toxic trade deals. CETA, the free trade deal between Canada and the EU has already been ratified, and if the European Parliament passes it, it will come into effect before the UK parliament has had any chance to vote on it.

“So many of the controversial elements of TTIP would effectively come in through the back door with CETA, and people across Europe are already mobilising in large numbers to stop this attempted corporate coup just like they have done with TTIP.”

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