by Éanna Kelly
30 September 2015
Lopsided trade talks
serve US interests, says trade
as hopes fade of reaching
an outline agreement
by the end of 2015.
France's junior trade minister Matthias Fekl has threatened
"outright termination" of his country's involvement in the EU-US
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
negotiations, saying a,
"total lack of transparency" in TTIP
talks poses a "democratic problem".
In an interview with the French
newspaper Sud-Ouest published on Monday, Fekl said he
believes the negotiations favor American interests.
"Europe has offered many
compromises, in all areas, and has received no serious offers
from the Americans in return. Neither for access to their public
markets, nor for access to their agricultural and food markets,
which remain closed," Fekl said.
Access to negotiation texts is not
guaranteed even for politicians, Fekl added.
"American members of parliament have
access to a much higher number of documents than we do in
If approved, TTIP would create the
largest free-trade area in the world.
Facing pressure from the country's powerful agricultural lobby,
French politicians are especially keen to get a deal that avoids
In Fekl's view, if the US is not willing to modify its position, the
negotiations will be on shaky ground.
"If nothing changes, that will show
that there is no willingness to ensure a mutually beneficial
negotiation process," he said. "France is examining all its
options, including abandoning the negotiations all together."
Meanwhile, a group of more than 55 UK
members of parliament this week expressed major concerns in a motion
on TTIP signed by the new leader of Britain's opposition Labour
party, Jeremy Corbyn and every member of the Scottish
Talks over the trade deal began in 2013. Hopes that there would be
an outline agreement by the end of this year are fading, and on
Monday Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed
doubts the EU could hit this target date.
This would place a question mark over whether a deal could be
wrapped up before the US elections in November 2016.
TTIP is largely welcomed by business but despised by environmental
The grand aim of TTIP is to create greater regulatory harmonization
between the two blocs in areas such as car and drug safety testing,
which would result in reduced costs for manufacturers.
However green advocates are worried any deal would remove prized EU
environmental regulations, and lead to greater exploitation of US
crude oil and gas.
Another area of contention is the 'investor-state dispute
clause, which would allow companies to seek compensation from
foreign governments if there are policy changes that could threaten
Two weeks ago, the EU Commission
announced a new arbitration system to replace ISDS, but this has yet
to be accepted by US negotiators.