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Despite Obama’s push, TTIP talks are stalled

After Barack Obama’ visit to Europe and as the US and EU negotiators have resumed talks in New York, most EU media comment on the TTIP negotiations being at a stalemate and report on the various comments made by official representatives, especially by French ministers. Repubblica.it website reports that Barack Obama’s visit to Europe has been used in part to encourage progress on the TTIP negotiations.

Mr Obama said that “time is not on our side” and if the deal is not closed this year, it will be “buried” until after the elections in the US and Europe.  A FAZ article reports European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström admitting that both sides cannot yet present concrete outcomes. But she told the German daily that “we want to conclude the agreement before the end of the year.” Furthermore, she rejected a “TTIP light,” which would only focus on customs.

Many media outlets then report on French Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ andFrench Minister of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl’s comments. Le Soir and Les Echos report that Manuel Valls warned that the TTIP project “will not succeed” if it does not offer a guarantee of keeping France’s “requirement level”, especially on health and environment issues. Metro notes that French secretary of State in charge of foreign trade Matthias Fekl is quite pessimistic about the TTIP negotiations’ outcome. Les Echos even reports on him highlighting that Europe has no obligation to “follow the US.” He also insisted that Europe is “the first economic entity in the world and the first group that has influence in international trade.” Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Hírlap and Portfolio.hu quote Mr Fekl as adding that the European mission intends to take actions in environmental protection and to raise the transparency of the talks, but there is no pressure on the European side to have a final agreement.

On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, opposition to the free trade agreement between the US and Europe, the TTIP, is growing, writes Politiken‘s international editor Michael Jarlner. A week ago, more than 40 European mayors and representatives from different regions within the EU passed a statement against the TTIP and other free trade agreements. Those against the agreements are worried that the harmonisation of products and safety standards will benefit multinational companies, while consumers, trade unions, and citizens will suffer under obscure decision-making processes between lobby groups, the European Commission, and the American authorities.

An Opinion editorial by Nicolas Beytout criticises the French government which boasts about having obtained the contract of the century in selling twelve submarines to Australia” while, at the same time, being is seriously “reconsidering its positions on the TTIP negotiations.” The opinion piece considers that this situation is inconsistent. He then points out that the military sector is “highly sensitive and closely monitored” and that the contract signed with Canberra represents a free trade agreement. He further believes that reducing the stakes of the TTIP to caricatures, such as “GMOs in all plates,” is “reprehensible.”

©europeanunion2016

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