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August 31, 2016

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France to demand end to TTIP negotiations

Europe's Social Democrats are lining up against TTIP - which effectively kills the trade agreement. After Sigmar Gabriel, François Hollande yesterday came up with a similarly negative assessment of the TTIP agreement. In an address to French ambassadors, he said that France preferred to face reality, which is that the talks cannot conceivably result in a treaty by the end of the year. We don't often agree with Hollande and Gabriel, but on this point they are right. TTIP is dead. The idea was to ratify a deal before a new president and Congress take over in the US. Regardless of the outcome of the US elections, the new administration is unlikely to continue in the same spirit as the current one. 

Frankfurter Allgemeine reports that Matthias Fekl, the French trade minister, said that France will officially demand an end to the TTIP negotiations at the forthcoming informal EU summit in Bratislava. He said he does not seek a delay but a firm end to the talks. He said the Americans were not offering anything - only a few crumbs, as he put it. French opinion also underlines the widespread scepticism of TTIP - with more than two thirds of the people against.

The official position of both Michael Froman, the US trade representative, and Cecilia Malmström is that the talks are making progress. Malmström said she was surprised by Fekl's comments, considering that she had not even briefed him on the last round of negotiations. 

The FT notes that two factors have undermined TTIP. One is the electoral cycle in the US and Europe. Both France and Germany are already in campaign mode. The second factor is Brexit. With the departure of Britain, the rest of the EU is going to be unsupportive of free trade agreements.

Our other stories

We also have stories on Emmanuel Macron's resignation and his big plans for France; on the deflating hopes of the Brexit deniers; on eurozone inflation going nowhere; on Rajoy's lacklustre performance in the Spanish parliament, and alternative constellations; on whether the Irish government could fall over the Commission's Apple ruling; and on the end of Schauble's global financial transactions tax.

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