U.S.-EU trade talks threaten climate, spark German protest

U.S.-EU trade talks threaten climate, spark German protest

By Brian Salamanca on Friends of the Earth

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the latest round of trade negotiations in New York City move toward conclusion today, it is increasingly clear that the public, especially in Europe, takes a dim view of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement. Trade deals are unpopular in the U.S. as public opinion surveys and the U.S. presidential debate show, but the TTIP deal may never be presented to Congress if the European Union is blocked from signing TTIP as a result of public outrage.

Last weekend, at least 35,000 demonstrators flooded the streets and public squares of Hannover to protest the deal. Only 1 in 5 Germans are in favor of TTIP. Public distrust in Europe has also been amplified by WikiLeaks revelations that U.S. spy agencies have surveilled European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on behalf of the U.S. Trade Representative and other agencies.

The European press has also been aggressive in posing tough questions about the deal. For example, the distinguished German newspaper, Süddeutsche_Zeitung, published an opinion piece by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, in which he stated that, “TTIP has the potential to undercut urgently needed action on climate that the Paris agreement requires.” Chevron and other giant energy companies are supporting a US-style investment chapter in TTIP  that will allow them to sue governments for millions or billions of dollars if climate or other regulations interfere with their expected future profits.

Bill Waren, senior trade analyst at Friends of the Earth, U.S., had this to say about the unpopularity of the TTIP:

“It should come as no surprise that the U.S.-EU trade deal is increasingly unpopular in the U.S. and especially in Europe. Climate denial is almost unheard of in Europe. But, TTIP would ramp up U.S. oil and gas production and exports to Europe: a recipe climate disaster. TTIP would also lower sensible regulatory safeguards, such as those related to food safety and toxic chemicals, among many others. Europeans have been leaders in setting high food and chemical safety standards. ”