Above Photo: A sign against the TTIP free trade agreement in Frankfurt, Germany. Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters
France’s trade minister has increased the pressure on the proposed EU-US trade deal by calling for the talks to be called off.
Matthias Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, tweeted that his government demanded negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should cease.
La France demande l’arrêt des négociations du #TAFTA #TTIP
— Matthias Fekl (@MatthiasFekl) August 30, 2016
France has been sceptical about TTIP from the start and has threatened to block the deal, arguing the US has offered little in return for concessions made by Europe. All 28 EU member states and the European parliament will have to ratify TTIP before it comes into force.
Fekl’s statement follows similarly gloomy comments from the German economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel. He said on Sunday: “The negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.”
Gabriel’s views were at odds with public comments by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who said last month that the proposed US-EU deal was “absolutely in Europe’s interest”.
However, Gabriel, who leads Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic party and is vice-chancellor in Merkel’s coalition government, said: “We mustn’t submit to the American proposals.”
Gabriel said on Sunday that in 14 rounds of talks on the transatlantic pact, the two sides have not agreed on a single common item out of the 27 chapters being discussed. His spokesman blamed lack of movement by the US and said Gabriel had concluded there would not be a deal this year.
The US and the EU have been negotiating TTIP for three years to forge a free trade zone covering half the world economy. Both had sought to conclude talks this year, but differences remain.
However, a spokesman for the US trade representative, Michael Froman, said talks had not stalled. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel: “Negotiations are in fact making steady progress.”