Edited by Desi Tzoneva
On 30 August 2016, Matthias Fekl, the French Minister for Foreign Trade, tweeted that his government has demanded that negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) should cease. Two days ago, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel, in his interview with one of the German channels, claimed that the negotiations had failed as none of the 27 chapters of the TTIP agreement had been conciliated after 14 rounds of negotiations.
Gabriel was not the first European politician who criticised the trade partnership between the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). In July 2016, Carlo Calenda, the Italian Minister of Economic Development, stated that the negotiations had lasted too long to be successful. A month earlier, Prime Minister of France, Manuel Valls, asserted that the agreement would be impossible if it did not respect European interests.
In fact, the TAFTA negotiations started in the summer of 2013. The agreement was supposed to create about 13 million jobs in the US and the EU and to also greatly stimulate growth of trade. However, critics from the EU claimed that TAFTA would be more profitable for the US than for Europe. In particular, they feared that the European market would be filled with cheaper American goods, while the US market would remain well-protected.
The TAFTA agreement was one of the main priorities of Obama’s second presidential term. In the spring of 2016, the mass media reported that Washington increased its pressure on its European partners to make them more cooperative. German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, claimed that the US had threatened to apply an embargo on European car exports if Brussels refused to increase its imports of American agricultural goods. Later on, Washington called this statement ‘misinformation’, but Brussels admitted that they had had certain “controversies.”
Naturally, the latest announcements by European officials prove that the EU is not likely to obey the US’ political course this time. The Europeans have shown that they are not that obedient when their economic interests are affected.
Obviously, the part of the European establishment which supports American interests and the interests of supranational elites, will try to turn the tables and press the European governments. On the other hand, the national European economic elites will not abandon the struggle when their interests are clearly infringed.
France, Germany and other EU countries have shown that they have their own opinion and do not want to serve global transnational corporations, whose economic, administrative and production centres are located abroad. In case the US wins the struggle, the largest European markets will be lost for the national and regional EU establishment. And this would be a very sad scenario for the whole of Europe.