News / Economy

EU-US Trade Talks Face Growing Hostility, Ministers Warn

The European Union's trade chief Karel De Gucht answers a question during an interview in Athens, Feb. 28, 2014.
The European Union's trade chief Karel De Gucht answers a question during an interview in Athens, Feb. 28, 2014.
Free-trade talks between the United States and the European Union are in danger of being derailed by populist groups opposing everything from globalization to multinationals, EU ministers and business leaders said on Friday.
The rise of anti-EU parties, reports of U.S. spying in Europe and accusations that a trade pact would pander to big companies have combined to erode public support for a deal that proponents say would dramatically increase economic growth.
“We are grappling with people who are anti-European, who are anti-American, who are anti-free trade, who are anti-globalization and who are anti-multinational corporations,” Finland's minister for Europe and trade, Alexander Stubb, told his EU counterparts and business leaders at a meeting in Athens.
“We have an uphill battle to make the argument that this EU-U.S. free-trade agreement is a good one,” he said in remarks that were broadcast to reporters.
With the eurozone's economy barely out of a two-year recession, EU governments see a trade deal with the United States as the best way to create jobs. They say a pact encompassing almost half the world's economy could generate $100 billion in additional economic output a year on both sides of the Atlantic.
The European Union and the United States already trade almost $3 billion in goods and services each day, and by deepening economic ties, the pact could create a market of 800 million people where business could be done freely.
The EU's trade chief Karel De Gucht conceded that, outside business circles, there was little public awareness about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is often known by its initials as “T-TIP”.
“When we talk about T-TIP, some people think it is an extraterrestrial,” De Gucht said.
Nils Andersen of Danish shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk , who was among chief executives invited to the debate, said there was a danger of voters being “hijacked by populist statements”.
Yes or No?
Public support is crucial because the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress must ratify the agreement once it is made.
EU lawmakers have already shown a willingness to reject deals they think do not have enough public support - for example the global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) thrown out in 2012.
U.S.-EU trade talks initially enjoyed a warm reception when they were launched in July last year.
But European consumer and green groups said a deal letting firms operate freely in both the EU and the United states might let companies bypass EU safety and environmental standards.
The talks have also been overshadowed by widespread distrust of Washington caused by reports the United States bugged EU offices and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
In the United States, President Barack Obama's efforts to speed up agreement on the deal, by renewing a 'fast-track' trade promotion authority, have faced resistance from members of his own Democratic party, some of them skeptical about the benefits of unfettered free trade.
The 'fast track' authority, which expired in 2007, would allow Obama to present the trade to Congress for a simple 'yes/no' vote, avoiding the risk of lawmakers picking it apart clause by clause and delaying its chances of becoming law indefinitely.
De Gucht said the EU's tight regulation in the sensitive issue of genetically modified food would not change, even if Brussels and Washington did sign an accord.
Some Europeans are worried about what impact GM crops and products - often dubbed “Frankenstein Food” - might have on health and the environment.
“We are not dumbing down our standards,” De Gucht said. “I will not agree to put hormone beef on the European market or change our laws on genetically modified organisms.”

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.