France will ask the European Commission to halt negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States, the country’s junior minister for trade said on Tuesday. “There is no more political support in France for these negotiations” and “France calls for an end to these negotiations,” Matthias Fekl told RMC radio.
Negotiators from the US and the EU are in talks to finalise the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which would create the world’s largest free-trade area.
But the negotiations have been bogged down over the terms of the agreement as well as Britain’s shock vote to leave the EU and rising opposition to the deal in France and Germany. The setbacks have raised serious doubts that it will be achieved by the end of the year as hoped. Fekl said the talks are weighted in favour of the Americans. “The Americans give nothing or just crumbs… that is not how negotiations are done between allies,” he said. “We need a clear and definitive halt to these negotiations in order to restart on a good foundation”. France will make this case at a meeting of foreign trade ministers in Bratislava in September, Fekl added.
Activists who have opposed TTIP since negotiations began in 2013 say the deal would only benefit multinationals and harm consumers. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said it would be “impossible” for the two sides to conclude negotiations on a trade deal by the end of 2016. And Germany’s vice chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday that the negotiations were effectively dead in the water.
Behind the scenes, top diplomats have told AFP talks may be suspended until after the US presidential election in November as well as elections in France and Germany next year.