EU Trade Ministers come together in a desperate attempt to save TTIP

informal-meeting-of-27-heads-of-state-and-government-in-bratislava-roundtable-on-the-danube

The heads of state or government of the 27 member states meet on 16 September 2016 in Bratislava to continue their reflection on how to give impetus to further reform and to the development of an EU with 27 member states. The meeting includes two working sessions and an informal lunch. Shoot location: Bratislava – SLOVAKIA Shoot date: 16/09/2016 Copyright: European Union

After having been the stage for a critical European Union Summit, the very first one in a 27-member-States shape, Bratislava is now preparing to harbour a delicate meeting of the bloc’s trade ministers next week. The agenda will be formally all focused on the existing trans-Atlantic trade agreements, the TTIP with the United States and the recently-agreed CETA between the EU and Canada, in a crucial moment for both trade deals. The growing speculation that talks about the former has been lead to a halt, and the voices around growing turmoil over the Canada-EU trade deal inside local parties have opened a new season of wide scepticism around the future of trade in the EU.

Background

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is surely not living its best moment these days. After months of poor progress in the negotiations between the two superpowers, a sort of lack of political support became more and more evident in the past weeks, until a point in which it became undeniable. When at the end of August the German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that talks between the US and the EU over TTIP had “de facto failed”, despite an official declaration that negotiations had ended without an agreement, the entire world saw clearly how critical that moment was. Mr. Gabriel’s declaration came only days after France’s trade minister, Matthias Fekl, called for an end to trade negotiations and said he will formally not support TTIP any longer.

EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström met last Thursday with the US trade representative Michael Froman in Brussels to formally discuss the ongoing negotiations. That meeting looked more like a bid to save the mammoth EU-US trade pact. “We had a good meeting where we reviewed the substantial progress being made and discussed next steps for moving forward”, she declared after the meeting. “We have directed our teams to make as much progress as possible during the next round, scheduled for the week of October 3 in New York”, she added.

Last call from Trade Ministers

TTIP backers seem a bit more worried about deadlines and time though, as the common feeling is that the EU-US free trade deal will collapse if a preliminary agreement isn’t secured before US President Barack Obama leaves office at the end of the year. This is the main reason why Ministers from twelve trade-oriented EU countries decided to give a final push and throw their weight behind negotiations over the trans-Atlantic trade deals, before the 22-23 Sept meeting takes place. In a letter sent to the EU’s Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on Wednesday, those Ministers urged her to focus their attention on how to soothe the existing differing points with Washington, and stressed that trade is a key factor for the fight against unemployment in the region.

“Europe needs to demonstrate clear leadership in negotiating free trade agreements if we are to generate the growth we need to meet future challenges”, they underscored, adding that the bloc must push for a trade policy that also stands up for workers’ rights, the environment and people’s health, as described by the Wall Street Journal. The signatories of the letter include the trade Ministers from Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries, as well as from Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Ireland and the UK, although the missing signatures from France and Germany immediately raised concerns.

Germany’s huge protests

The Bundesrepublick seems indeed to have become one the hottest battle fields for TTIP, as Mr. Gabriel’s words last August may as well be the indicator of the public feeling. Indeed last weekend Germany was also the stage of huge demonstration in its major cities, where hundreds of thousands took to the streets, in protest of pending trade deals with the United States and Canada.

Rallies against the controversial pacts took place in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Cologne, Leipzig, Frankfurt, and the capital of Bavaria, Munich, where thousands met on the central Odeonsplatz square and adjoining Ludwigstrasse under heavy rain. The organisers said that more than 320,000 people turned out in total. Protesters argue that the trade agreements, more specifically the TTIP, would lower European standards as regards food and health, and would allow multi-national groups to sue EU governments.

CETA’s delicate phase

And while TTIP backers are mourning, CETA supporters may also face a few headaches at this particular moment of the year. The negotiations around free-trade agreement between Canada and the EU were concluded in 2014 and the pact is due to be ratified by the council of ministers next month prior to being debated by the Strasbourg parliament. But what seemed to be just a formality until a few weeks ago now seems to be bit more delicate, for a few reasons. Certainly the protests in Germany, mixed with the growing scepticism around trade agreements in the entire bloc seemed to have become an alarming element for the CETA as well.

The SPD knot

Secondly, the many open points inside the local governments and parties across Europe may have a heavy weight in that matter. Germany seems to be once again critical, with the left wing of the Social Democrats party (SPD) in Germany now being very sceptical about the benefits of the deal. A gathering in Germany of SPD members next week at a special congress could force Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also SPD’s leader, to reverse his historic support towards CETA, shuffling cards once again.

In this situation, this week’s Bratislava meeting of the EU’s trade ministers becomes an incredibly crucial point to shape the future of big trade deals, and the letter from the twelve Ministers indeed forms a declaration of intent. “The TTIP is an opportunity to shape the rules of trade in the 21st Century”, the twelve wrote, adding that the EU-Canada pact “is a broad and deep agreement based on the reality of today’s trade patterns”.

“We are now looking forward to the signing of the EU-Canada trade deal on 27 October and provisional application of the agreement”, the twelve Ministers stressed, making their statement sound like a hope rather than a firm political point.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Uzbekistan wins its long fight against malaria, as global rates continue to rise

American negotiators can’t pay for their trip to Brussels, EU-US trade agreement freezes

Human rights: breaches in Russia, the Rakhine State and Bahrain

Parliament in favour of lifting visa requirements for Kosovars

Countering illegal hate speech online – EU Code of Conduct ensures swift response

Supermarket supply chains are driving poverty and inequality. We can do better

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Latin America, in association with The European Sting

Road injuries leading cause of death for the young, despite safety gains: UN report

Hostilities in Syria’s southwest, mean cuts in vital aid across Jordanian border: Senior UN official

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

‘Passport to dignity’ that schools represent may expire fast, without emergency funding warns UN Palestine refugee agency

3 natural mysteries that could be explained by quantum physics

Here are 5 of the biggest threats to our oceans, and how we can solve them

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

UN chief condemns air strike that hit school bus in northern Yemen, killing scores of children

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

The West and Russia impose a new order on the world

War of words in Davos over Eurozone’s inflation/deflation

Low quality healthcare is increasing the burden of illness and health costs globally

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century: an equity unachieved

The European Agenda on Migration: EU needs to sustain progress made over the past 4 years

US-North Korea summit in Singapore ‘a promising development’ says Guterres

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Globally, youth are the largest poverty-stricken group, says new UN report

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

Idea of ‘homogenous’ Polish culture is a myth: UN human rights expert

The West and Russia accomplished the dismembering and the economic destruction of Ukraine

The success story of a Chinese investment in the Greek port of Piraeus

Stricter rules and tougher sanctions for market manipulation and financial fraud

Is there a de facto impossibility for the Brexit to kick-start?

EU to Google: How to dismantle European search engines in 13 steps

Is euro to repeat its past highs with the dollar?

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo conflict zone ‘remains dangerous and unpredictable’ – UN chiefs

5 ways to go green in your own kitchen

Taliban-led violence during recent Afghan polls leaves record high numbers of civilians dead – UN

Banks cannot die but can be fined

MWC 2016 LIVE: Under Armour learns from “robust community of data”

An introduction to ‘Eco-Medical Literacy’ and its importance in shaping expert medical professionals

Egypt: The road to hell paved with western advices for democracy

How many more financial crises in the West can the world stand?

EU migration crisis again accentuates lack of unity and solidarity among member states

JADE Romania Celebrates the 4th Anniversary

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

YO!Fest back in Strasbourg for the 2nd edition of the European Youth Event – 20-21 May 2016

Superconductors: the miracle materials powering an energy revolution

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

Much more than a ‘lifeline’ for millions of households, remittances can spur global growth, says UN agency

Safer products: stepping up checks and inspections to protect consumers

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

Why the world is not as globalized as you think

Should tech companies pay us for our data?

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

Post-Brexit muddled times: the resignation of UK’s top ambassador and Theresa May’s vague plans

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

3 lessons from India in creating equal access to vaccines

Access still an obstacle to reaching stricken communities on Indonesian island: UN agencies

Biggest London City Banks ready to move core European operations to Frankfurt or Dublin?

Mobile World Congress 2015 first to debate EU’s new stance on Net Neutrality and Roaming Charges

With 10 million Yemenis ‘one step away from famine’, donors pledge $2.6 billion

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: Banking moguls continue brandishing financial Armageddon to intimidate us all but in Davos they worry about the very distant future

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s