Is the TTIP on the verge of collapse?

France wants to end the free trade negotiations between the US and the EU. Germany's Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel has also declared that the TTIP had "effectively failed". The EU will be sorry if the deal falls through, commentators write, and fear that German-American relations in particular could suffer.

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Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Free trade deal better than its reputation

The TTIP should be implemented notwithstanding all the criticism, Upsala Nya Tidning believes:

“The biggest stumbling block for the TTIP is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS): companies that have business operations in other countries need protection for their investments in the event that the situation suddenly changes. … Owing to open questions about procedure, the ISDS remains a hard nut to crack. The other concerns, however, tend to be myths that some people want to keep alive. … In Sweden Swedish law will continue to apply, just as EU regulations would continue to apply in the EU. The TTIP was never about Europe lowering its standards in environmental protection, food production or animal protection. In these times of terror, populism and Brexit, a new, far-reaching trade deal would be a positive symbol. So getting the TTIP signed next year is a goal worth seeking.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

German-American relations suffering

The tax demands made on US giant Apple and the sluggish TTIP negotiations are chipping away at the transatlantic bridge, Handelsblatt fears:

“The growing alienation between Europe and the US is palpable. Barely a day goes by without reports of massive economic and political differences. ... Maintaining the friendship will require huge efforts on both sides of the Atlantic. But just like in a good marriage counselling session, both spouses should remember how things started. In the entire postwar era - right up until the German reunification - Germany in particular had no partner more reliable than the US. ... It would be fatal if the bad mood is allowed to harm the German-American friendship. The sense of attachment is priceless, regardless of who moves into the White House in November. The German government will have to sit down with the US administration and redefine common interests.”

Foreign Policy (US) /

Obama's free trade dreams in tatters

It looks like Obama won't be able to make the TTIP part of his legacy after all, Foreign Policy magazine concludes:

“President Barack Obama has long envisioned leaving office with two trade deals in place: the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 12 Asian nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe. Both now seem slated to fail. ... Now, instead of securing a wide-reaching trade pact between the United States and Europe as a farewell present, Obama will have to wait to see if TTIP ever gets done. And his dreams of a similar deal in Asia, formed by the TTP, is also suffering a slow agony. Both presidential candidates say they oppose it, and there aren’t enough votes in Congress to push the pact through in the lame duck session after the election.”

Duma (BG) /

Elections blocking the agreement

France and the US are in the midst of election campaigns and until these are over no more progress will be made on the subject of the TTIP, Duma predicts:

“Elections will be held in France next year. The French government, which isn’t particularly popular among voters right now, has realised that backing the TTIP would be political suicide in view of the many French people who have joined the 'Stop TTIP' initiative. Launching a European initiative requires 55,000 signatures and 360,227 French citizens have signed - six times the required amount. … In the US, elections are also imminent and Obama has no chance of keeping his original promise to push through the TTIP by the end of his presidency. What will happen after the change of government is anyone's guess. Trump categorically rejects the TTIP and Clinton has criticised it on several occasions.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

TTIP opponents on top after Brexit vote

The TTIP debate highlights how much influence the advocates of free trade have lost, Helsingin Sanomat observes:

“If the TTIP negotiations are suspended this will also show how the balance of power has changed in Europe. The UK was a passionate advocate of free trade. By stepping aside it will make room for the widespread opinion among Central European politicians that they must remain firmly in control and that market forces must play a subordinate role. The failure of the TTIP would be a defeat. For this deal would have a major impact in removing obstacles blocking company activities and establishing Western trade standards.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Agreement doesn't benefit consumers

The negotiators have simply been unable to convince the public of the benefits offered by the TTIP, L'Echo explains:

“The agreement exceeds their area of competence: TTIP is less a commercial than a regulatory accord. Whereas traditional commercial treaties promise lower prices, this deal touches on sensitive political issues like food quality and compliance with environmental standards. Rather than promising more buying power, the TTIP asks consumers to put their trust in the regulators' future contracts. That's asking a lot, particularly in the context of a downturn: whether it's for environmental reasons or out of economic patriotism, short trade routes are in vogue and the multinationals engender mistrust. Tax scandals have tarnished their reputation, yet this agreement comes across as being tailor-made for big companies.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Collapse of TTIP would be confession of failure

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung believes it would be a mistake to end the TTIP project:

“Basically Gabriel is suggesting that it's impossible to negotiate with the Americans. A year before the next German parliamentary elections he clearly feels it is expedient to display a good dose of anti-Americanism and party tactics. … A lot of ideology, opportunism and exaggeration have come into play in the debate about the pros and cons of the TTIP. Rational assessments are few and far between. The opponents, in all seriousness, see coexistence in Europe under threat. The supporters expect the deal to produce spectacular incentives for growth. It should be negotiated through to its conclusion and then we'll see what happens. But what kind of signal would it send if the whole thing was called off - to America, to the world, to the Europeans themselves? Missing this chance to exert influence and shape global affairs together with the North Americans would be tantamount to a confession of failure.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Europe would get the short end of the stick

The TTIP is in tatters after the most recent statements by German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel - and that is above all a problem for Europe, Hospodářské noviny argues:

“Nothing remains of the hopes that the negotiations would be concluded by the end of the year. The main reason for this is the upcoming elections, to the White House, the Elysée Palace and the Bundestag. ... But the other side is also showing little will to compromise. Donald Trump is promising he will protect the US market from cheap imports. Hillary Clinton has carefully avoided the subject of the TTIP. ... Who will regret that the most? First and foremost the Europeans. The United States has already reached agreements on equally ambitious trans-Pacific partnerships with a number of states in the Far East.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Protectionism undermines individual freedom

Behind the claims that the TTIP has failed is the same call for a stronger state that is strengthening the anti-European movements, warns Ferruccio de Bortoli in Corriere del Ticino:

“While the need for a state with more powers in the areas of security and migration is based on reasonable arguments, this is not the case with the blossoming demands for protectionism and state intervention in the economy. … The liberal principles of the free market economy and the advantages of competition are being battered by a treacherous and unexpected headwind. Hopefully they won't fall victim to this critical situation. The state as entrepreneur remains a bad idea that leads to waste and inefficiency. Protectionism may secure a few more votes, but it doesn't boost growth and in the end it gradually undermines the freedom and rights of the individual.”

Público (PT) /

EU and US missing a big chance

TTIP is clearly on the verge of collapse although such an agreement would have benefited transatlantic relations, Público comments:

“This undertaking, probably the most significant attempt in recent decades to strengthen relations between Europe and the US, has clearly failed. The secrecy of the negotiations, the concessions demanded of Europe in the sensitive areas of environmental protection and foodstuffs, and also the power of decision which multinational companies would have been accorded, actually make this failure desirable. … Yet symbolically, as well as in practical terms, this 'failure' also marks a worrying change in the relations between the two biggest Western blocs. And it comes at a time when China's growing power and the instability in the Middle East make the goal of strengthening transatlantic relations ever more important.”

De Tijd (BE) /

Think about the losers of globalisation

Gabriel is taking a very realistic and down to earth view of the situation, De Tijd comments:

“Politically TTIP is already unsellable on both sides of the Atlantic. This is a good sign in itself. Perhaps the threat of TTIP failing is also an opportunity to rethink the ongoing trend of globalisation and to pay more attention to the fate of the losers - who exist on both sides of the ocean. In view of the upcoming elections in the key states involved here the consequence is clear. The German Minister for Economic Affairs Gabriel said what people in many parts of Europe have been thinking for some time. The international economy needs new rules and regulations. There has to be more balance internationally.”

More opinions

La Stampa (IT) / 29 August 2016
  EU left with nothing if TTIP fails (in Italian)