Europe Should Up Ante In EU-US Trade Talks: Commissioner

Europe should up ante in EU-US trade talks: commissioner

PARIS, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 2nd September, 2016) - European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici called Friday for negotiators to up the ante in stalled talks with Washington on an ambitious EU-US trade deal.

Rejecting calls, notably by France, to halt the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Moscovici told reporters in Paris: "It would be much smarter... to pursue them, while raising our demands." He appealed for support from the trade ministers of EU member states for the TTIP, which has become a hot potato as key elections approach in the United States, France and Germany.

"European trade ministers (should) support the Commission and ask it to be strong and ambitious with our American partners," he said. The talks -- conducted in secret between the EU executive body and US negotiators -- have become bogged down as suspicions abound in Europe that the deal would undercut the 28-nation bloc's standards in key areas such as health and welfare.

Moscovici's remarks came after French junior trade minister Matthias Fekl said Paris wanted to halt the talks, saying US negotiators were offering "nothing or just crumbs". French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have also thrown cold water on the negotiations, with Valls on Thursday demanding a "clear halt".

Germany's vice chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said the talks had "de facto failed because we Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands." However his boss Angela Merkel spoke out in favour of a deal, saying it would create "job opportunities" for Europe.

Leaks about the planned text have sparked serious concerns among many Europeans that they will be giving up control over sensitive issues such as the use of pesticides and hormones in food production.

Another issue that has raised hackles is plans for a special court to speed up cases by companies against governments over breaches on regulatory issues, which opponents see as giving firms a veto over public policy, particularly in social and environmental areas.

Moscovici recalled that European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had ruled out ceding ground on Europe's "agricultural and environmental model (and) its health norms." He added: "All this is true but it's a living process, and it's a process that is moving forward."