Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said yesterday (28 August) that negotiations on the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – or TTIP – between the EU and the US were effectively dead in the water.
“The talks with the US have de facto failed because we Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands,” he told public broadcaster ZDF. “Nothing is moving forward.”
Gabriel, who is Angela Merkel’s second-in-command, said hardly any progress had been made in recent years. Slamming the negotiations, the vice-chancellor said neither side had managed to even agree on a single common chapter.
“According to my assessment, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed although nobody really admits to it. And that is because, having had 14 rounds of negotiations made into 27 chapters there has not been a single joint statement… We must not allow ourselves to submit ourselves to the American proposals. In Europe we have our way of living together,” Gabriel said.
The controversial free trade deal has sparked protests and drawn heavy criticism from some European leaders.
In May, French President François Hollande threatened to reject TTIP if it endangers the future of French agriculture.
The UK’s Brexit vote also appears not to have helped matters, essentially removing one of the US’ closest allies and supporters from the talks.
The US President Barack Obama still wants TTIP signed before the end of his term. Last month US Secretary of State John Kerry said he will tour EU capitals in the next months to “help people to understand exactly what the positive side of TTIP is”.
In the interview Sunday, Gabriel was more upbeat about a Canada-EU free trade agreement, which he called “a big step forward”, adding he would fight for its ratification.
The deal known as CETA was formally concluded in 2014 and requires the approval of 28 EU member states and European Parliament.