The European Union’s lead negotiator in trade talks with the United States is downplaying an assertion from the German economy minister that negotiations on the proposed pact have failed.
When asked on Monday by AP whether the claims were true, chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero said: No, no. Remember what Mark Twain said.
Twain once quipped that reports of his death were an exaggeration.
Economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice-chancellor, said Sunday: In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.
Gabriel noted that in 14 rounds of talks on the massive trans-Atlantic pact, the two sides have not agreed on a single common item out of 27 chapters being discussed.
Both Washington and Brussels have pushed for a deal by the end of the year, despite strong misgivings among some EU member states over the trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership, or TTIP.
Gabriel accused Washington of being angry about the deal that the EU struck with Canada, known as CETA, because it contains elements the US does not want to see in the TTIP.
We mustn’t submit to the American proposals, said Gabriel, who is also the head of Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic party (SDP).
Gabriel’s comments contrast with those of chancellor Angela Merkel, who said last month that TTIP was absolutely in Europe’s interest.
Popular opposition to a free trade agreement with the United States is strong in Germany. Campaigners have called for nationwide protests against the talks on 17 September about year before Germany’s next general election.
News Source TheGuardianNews