The European Commission today (29 August) insisted that it stood ready to finalise TTIP by the end of the year, after a leading German minister said the EU-US trade deal was dead in the water.
“The ball is rolling right now. The Commission is making steady progress,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said when asked about comments by German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel that the talks had “failed.”
“Talks are now indeed entering a crucial stage but … provided the conditions are right, the Commission stands ready to close this deal by the end of the year,” Schinas said.
The US is also pushing to close the deal before the end of 2016, conscious of the impeding elections that could imperil the deal.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has made clear “the Commission will not sacrifice Europe’s social health and its data protection standards, nor its cultural diversity on the altar of free trade,” Schinas said.
Asked whether TTIP could go through without support from Germany, the EU’s paymaster and largest economy, he said Juncker had won fresh backing for the negotiations from all bloc leaders at a summit in July.
“At the last (summit) precisely because we were entering this difficult and complex stage, President Juncker addressed his counterparts, checking whether there was political backing to conclude the deal by the end of the year,” Schinas said.
“We did not feel that there was a lack of support … we received the mandate to conclude these negotiations,” he said.