What will be the upshot of TTIP leaks?

Greenpeace published confidential documents on Sunday that reveal details about the current state of the negotiations on the TTIP free trade pact. Commentators discuss the pros and cons of the coup.

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Večer (SI) /

US companies pose a threat to Europe

The documents on the TTIP negotiations made public by Greenpeace show that US companies are in a dangerously dominant position, the daily Večer warns:

“Europe is clearly in an inferior position vis-à-vis the US companies that dictate US foreign policy in large-scale trade agreements. It seems that the US wants to cast the world back into the days of mercantilism: this time an era of corporate power. International trade is aimed at the shameless enrichment of corporations at the expense of broad sections of the population in this 'free' trade zone. As things stand the TTIP agreement poses a threat to almost all European environmental, food and consumer standards. Even the rule of law is at risk.”

Lost in EUrope (BE) /

Malmström must put US under pressure now

The TTIP documents leak has strengthened Europe's hand in the negotiations, writes columnist Eric Bonse in his Lost in EUrope blog:

“ The new TTIP leaks show that the EU has been forced into the defensive in the free trade talks with the US. But it needn't be like this if only Brussels were more honest and more courageous. Cecilia Malmström actually has every reason to rejoice. Because the documents that Greenpeace has leaked on the TTIP strengthen Europe's bargaining position. They show that it's the Americans who won't budge an inch. … Look, we're the good guys here but the Americans won't play along, Malmstöm, can say now. She can use the public outcry in Germany, France and other EU countries to put the US under pressure. If you don't meet us halfway there won't be a TTIP deal, Malmström can say now.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

Secrecy just an illusion in today's world

After the Panama Papers and Lux-Leaks, the TTIP leaks once again make it clear that attempts to keep information secret are no longer in keeping with the times, Le Quotidien concludes:

“In these times of open data and participatory democracy, it is paradoxical to want to withhold information. Such an attitude paves the way for conspiracy theories of the same dimensions as the secrets they try to account for. ... Multinationals, states and associations are willing to risk it, but such a situation can only last for so long. Because secrecy breeds suspicion. While in rare cases secrecy is called for, this need cannot be generalised. With the TTIP the rot had already set in. A free trade agreement cannot remain secret if it affects the quality of life of millions of individuals. The publication of these few pages has already justified people's fears.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Not conducive to compromise

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees the TTIP leaks scandal as unnecessary and counterproductive:

“It should be stressed that the leak documents negotiating positions and not negotiation results - the latter have always been published. The EU began publishing its positions long ago under pressure from the public. Never before have so many details about ongoing negotiations been known. Whether anyone benefits from such transparency is questionable. The public learns little that is new. And for the negotiators it becomes more difficult to act strategically or make compromises without losing face if everyone always knows the details of their positions in advance. This won't make the already tricky TTIP negotiations any easier.”

tagesschau.de (DE) /

Debate is too hysterical

All the fuss over the TTIP papers is unjustified, tagesschau.de observes critically:

“The purpose of such documents is to list the negotiating positions. Their contents are nothing new and one can easily imagine what they say. In international negotiations the truly difficult questions are almost always dealt with at the end. ... But nothing is normal in today's hysterical debate over the TTIP. For example the German concerns about environmental or consumer standards: was it the German or even the European authorities who exposed the VW diesel scandal? Is Volkswagen now paying higher compensation to European customers? ... It's just like the European negotiators said from the start: only at the end will we be able to tell how good or bad the TTIP is. Until then the Americans and hopefully also the Europeans will doggedly continue the negotiations.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Long live the leaks!

It is secrecy that is feeding all the suspicions regarding the TTIP, columnist Bert Wagendorp complains in De Volkskrant:

“The human mind works in a simple way. If it doesn't have enough facts it starts making things up. That's how we ended up with religions, and that's perhaps why we're turning the TTIP into something it isn't. But perhaps our distrust is justified and it's all far worse than we could ever imagine. … I don't find the fact that Angela Merkel, Mark Rutte and Obama are suddenly in such a hurry to conclude the negotiations particularly reassuring either. It's all just a feeling, but it's as if they want to make us swallow something before we realise just how unappetising it is. Now if in reaction to TTIP leaks the politicians in Washington and Brussels start telling us what they're doing so that we can talk about it, that would be real progress. Long live the leaks!”

Duma (BG) /

Who buys that, Mrs Malmström?

Now it's really crystal clear that the free trade agreement won't serve the interests of the Europeans but those of the international companies, the left-wing daily Duma rails:

“EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is insisting now that she is acting in the Europeans' interests in the negotiations with the US. But who buys that, Ms Malmström? The less forgetful among us remember well how you said that you weren't directly elected by the European people and therefore weren't answerable to them either. They also remember how, in the vote on the TTIP last summer, the MEPs tried to fool the Europeans into believing that their interests were being protected. Unfortunately the legislators prefer to side with capital rather than with the working people.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Transparency a blessing for the agreement

The TTIP papers must be published, the daily paper Süddeutsche Zeitung argues:

“The negotiators, especially those from the US, will argue that publishing the TTIP papers would endanger the success of the negotiations. That is a strange concept of success. Is it a success if the people feel that they are being forced into the agreement as if it were a straitjacket? The secrecy in which the pact has been shrouded so far makes a beneficial agreement less likely; this clandestine approach sabotages objective discussion; and the officious lies about how far on the deal is jeopardise democracy and the rule of law. Those who want a transatlantic economic community - and there are good reasons to want it - must ensure that there can be an informed and well-founded discussion of the critical points.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Obama himself must convince Europeans

Barack Obama himself must break the political resistance to the TTIP in Europe for the negotiations to be successfully concluded by the end of the year, Le Monde advises:

“Despite the praiseworthy efforts of European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in favour of greater transparency regarding the preparation of the TTIP, the European Commission - to which the member states gave the mandate to negotiate - is poorly equipped to do the indispensable political work vis-à-vis the public. This task falls to the elected governments. But leaders from London to Berlin and from Paris to Rome have more pressing things to deal with and - in some cases - elections to prepare: this comes at a bad time. If Barack Obama really wants to accelerate the talks, it is up to him to convince the Europeans by ceding ground on the most contentious issues, namely access to the US market and agriculture.”

Financial Times (GB) /

TTIP increases frustration with the EU

The planned TTIP trade pact would create even more losers of globalisation - which makes it incomprehensible that Germany's Social Democrats aren't doing more to counter the deal, writes columnist Wolfgang Münchau in the Financial Times:

“I do not understand why Sigmar Gabriel, leader of Germany’s Social Democrats and economics minister, is such an ardent advocate of TTIP. If he is serious about stopping the erosion of support for his party, he should be more open-minded about the political costs of this agreement. It is hardly surprising that a large number of supporters of the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland party are former SPD voters. A no to TTIP would at least remove one factor behind the surge in anti-EU or anti-globalisation attitudes. The marginal economic benefits of the agreement are outweighed by the political consequences of its adoption.”

ABC (ES) /

More exports, more wealth and more power

The daily paper ABC sees the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as a major opportunity for Europe:

“Firstly, it would make imports cheaper and substantially increase EU exports. … Secondly, for consumers prices would go down and the range of goods and services on offer would go up. … And thirdly this alliance would strengthen the EU's influence over future multilateral agreements with other countries and the progressive regulation of global trade to the benefit of European companies. However, the left-wing parties and movements, with their typical habit of opposing anything that entails progress and generation of wealth, reject the TTIP. They are blocking the agreement on the basis of erroneous and detrimental protectionist arguments that in fact contradict the spirit of the EU. If this opportunity is missed the Europeans will end up paying a high price for it.”

Večernji list (HR) /

A new East-West conflict with TTIP

The trade agreement would herald a return to bygone days, Večernji list believes:

“American-Western European relations have contributed to the development of the states of Europe and brought prosperity to their citizens. However the East Bloc has lagged behind. Today the TTIP is for the economy what Nato was for the security of the states of Western Europe in the days of the Cold War. Consequently, Russia is doing its best to bring about a Brexit, in the hopes that this would be the beginning of the end for the EU. Whereas in the past the military alliances were at loggerheads, now the economic battle has begun.”

More opinions

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