EXCLUSIVE / José Bové, the famously outspoken French MEP and Farmers Union leader, has condemned US officials for a "lack of transparency" in demanding secrecy in transatlantic trade talks with their EU counterparts.
According to assessments made by the EU Commission and other European bodies, a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership could over time boost EU GDP by 0.5% annually and help create approximately 400,000 jobs in the EU.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would extend beyond the removal of tariffs, to include the opening of markets on investment, services and public procurement. In addition, it would focus on aligning rules and technical product standards which currently form the most important barrier to transatlantic trade.
Talking to EurActiv.fr, Bové expressed surprise that a second round of the negotiations would start in October, as the first round of talks only began earlier this summer.
In early September, the American side insisted that negotiations be held behind closed doors, and only take place using encrypted communication, he said.
"When the European representative said that the negotiations should be kept secret, the US representative interrupted him and started to give lessons about secure communications," Bové explained. "He insisted that the Europeans should talk about these negotiations only through encrypted phones, while they have the indecency to spy and wiretap the entire planet. I am telling you this on purpose, because this is simply a lack of transparency."
>> Read the full interview with Jose Bové on EurActiv.fr (in French)
The MEP is concerned about the impact that any exemption clauses agreed in the negotiations could have for Europe's environmental legislation on issues such as GMOs and shale gas.
He went on to criticise the "political dwarf Europe", a situation he says has been highlighted by the Syrian crisis, and the EU's lack of a common voice on the subject.
Bové is a candidate in the European Green Party primaries, backed by the maverick MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and sharing his candidacy with Rebecca Harms from Germany. In 1987, he created the farmers’ union 'Confédération Paysanne', which calls for an alternative economic approach to Europe that cherishes characteristics of the Old Continent.
In France, his Europe Ecologie Les Verts patry's participation in François Hollande’s Socialist-led government is regularly challenged, with green activists complaining that the government's environmental commitment is barely noticeable.
Bové told EurActiv.fr that one difference between the two parties was their approach to EU affairs, which would become more visible during the European elections campaigns leading up to the May 2014 poll.
"I am afraid that European issues will be overshadowed," Bové said of next year's election. "The challenges are very different, and our vision is very different from that of the Socialist Party".
"Socialists are not environmentalists" Bové said, adding the Greens were proposing "a very different Europe than the social democrats". But the visibility and influence that the Greens could gain by sitting in a national government were "very important", he admitted.
- 25 May 2014 :Elections for the European Parliament in France