Lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party who’ve been struggling to fathom the intricacies of U.S.-European free trade have been sent tips on selling benefits to constituents.
The seven-page “Argumentation Aid” for answering frequently asked questions on the pact was sent to Christian Democrat lawmakers in Berlin yesterday. It advises on how to debunk myths such as the risk Europe will be flooded by chlorine-washed broilers from the U.S. to defending German investment-protection rules, which the advisory said the country “invented” a half-century ago.
“Great hopes and expectations” are vested in the accord, whose negotiation began in 2013, said the tips’ author, CDU economic spokesman Joachim Pfeiffer, in a preamble. The pact, known as TTIP or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, will create the world’s largest free-trade area and become a “global model for the 21st century,” he said.
The move by senior lawmakers from Merkel’s CDU to talk up the deal follows protests from opposition parties and non-governmental organizations alleging it will water down European standards of consumer and environmental protection. Merkel’s party has begun addressing that criticism with European Parliamentary elections due on May 25.
Campaigning for her CDU on May 17 in Hamburg, Merkel sparred with hecklers waving banners calling for a stop to TTIP. Merkel countered the tirade, saying Hamburg’s wealth derives “entirely” from trade. Ecological and consumer-protection rules improve and don’t wither from trade accords, Merkel said.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat whose party is also contesting the May 25 election, announced today in Berlin the creation of an independent advisory board that includes NGOs to boost the transparency of TTIP negotiations.
The European Commission, negotiating with the U.S. on behalf of the trade bloc’s 28 members, “won’t in the long run get ahead with talks” if they lack transparency, Gabriel told reporters. European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht in a May 17 interview in the Die Welt newspaper urged Merkel to boost efforts to promote the pact’s benefits.
U.S. and EU officials have completed four of 10 chapters of the TTIP talks and are focusing on finding common ground on services, copyright, telecommunications and the environment in negotiations that resumed May 19 near Washington.