French President François Hollande reportedly said Tuesday that he would “never accept” the current agreement, citing its negative implications for “the essential principles of our agriculture, our culture, of mutual access to public markets.”
“At this stage [of talks] France says ‘No,’” Agence France-Presse quoted Hollande as saying at a meeting of left-wing politicians in Paris.
Subsequently, French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl said a freeze in TTIP talks was the “most likely option” without concessions from the United States.
Fekl told French radio that the agreement on the table is “a bad deal,” the Guardian reported. “Europe is offering a lot and we are getting very little in return,” Fekl said. “That is unacceptable.”
Climate justice advocates on both sides of the Atlantic have issued similar critiques. Monday’s Greenpeace leak suggested that “hard won environmental progress is being bartered away behind closed doors,” as Greenpeace Netherlands campaigner Faiza Oulahsen put it.
In the wake of the exposé, War on Want Executive Director John Hilary said the leak “marks the beginning of the end for the hated EU-US trade deal.”
The leak of the TTIP text comes at a time when senior politicians across Europe have already begun to distance themselves from the increasingly toxic deal. President Hollande announced this weekend that France will veto any TTIP agreement that could endanger the country’s agricultural sector. Germany’s economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has also spoken publicly of TTIP collapsing, and has pointed the finger at US intransigence as the cause. When politicians start playing the blame game in this way, you know they are already preparing their exit strategies. The writing is on the wall.
Indeed, the Guardian said, “Tuesday’s comments from the heart of the French government reveal how difficult TTIP negotiations have become.”
While he agrees that the TTIP is “almost fatally wounded,” Global Justice Now trade campaigner Guy Taylor on Wednesday cautioned against complacency.
“While TTIP may be on the ropes,” he wrote, “we still face a grave danger from CETA, a similar deal that’s a lot closer to being ratified and implemented between the EU and Canada. CETA is effectively a backdoor to TTIP, with any US corporation operating in Canada able to exploit its provisions to sue EU governments should they take decisions that may impact on expected profit margins.”
Taylor concluded: “If TTIP is truly on its knees, we need to double our efforts to prevent this similarly toxic deal from being ushered in through the backdoor.”
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Deirdre Fulton is a Common Dreams staff writer.