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by James Tweedie
FRANCE called a halt to talks on the secretive TTIP trade deal yesterday as the US was offering “just crumbs” in return for surrendering sovereignty.
French junior trade minister Matthias Fekl said there was “no more political support in France” for the talks between the European Union and Washington.
“The Americans give nothing or just crumbs … That is not how negotiations are done between allies,” Mr Fekl said.
President Francois Hollande was more guarded but told a meeting of France’s diplomatic corp that agreement was unlikely before the end of the year.
“France would rather see things as they are and not harbour the illusion that an agreement will be struck before the end of the US president’s term in office.”
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has drawn criticism from trade unions, environmentalists, consumer groups and others.
Its investor-state dispute settlement clauses allow foreign firms to sue governments if legislation affects on their profits.
Germany’s vice-chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday: “The talks with the US have de facto failed because we Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands … Nothing is moving forward.”
But European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem insisted yesterday there was life in TTIP yet.
“They have been difficult, of course, we knew from the beginning, but they have not failed,” she said.
Anti-poverty campaign War on Want called on European governments to “terminate” TTIP and other dodgy trade deals.
Senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said: “It’s about time an EU government stepped up to the plate and listened to the people of Europe, who have unequivocally said in their millions that they want nothing to do with TTIP.”
But, he said: “Opposing TTIP rings a little hollow when the same EU governments are still trying to force through the ‘Canadian TTIP’, Ceta [Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement], which could allow tens of thousands of North American corporations to sue the UK for up to 20 years after Brexit.”
“Despite senior French and German politicians — as well as the UK Labour Party — coming out against TTIP, the European Commission is keeping up its TTIP spin operation.
“Governments must now come together to declare that TTIP and Ceta will be terminated.”
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