France Will Seek to Stop EU-U.S. Trade Talks If No 2016 Progress

  • Results of this month's negotiations in Miami will set tone
  • French trade minister Matthias Fekl speaks on RMC radio

France will seek to end U.S.-European trade talks if gridlock continues into next year, French trade minister Matthias Fekl said.

“If in the following rounds of talks, and in 2016, things haven’t improved, we will seek to stop talks,” Fekl said Wednesday on RMC radio. “If, in Europe, France doesn’t want a major negotiation to continue, the negotiation won’t happen.”

Matthias Fekl

Photographer: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. and European negotiators aim to complete the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership before President Barack Obama leaves office, in a bid to strengthen economic and political ties while also reducing regulatory barriers. The next round of talks will take place Oct. 19-23 in Miami.

Fekl said Germany shares France’s concerns that the deal is moving too slowly. President Francois Hollande’s administration has chosen to speak up to make clear its views that the U.S. is making “unfair” and “unrealistic” pushes to get “corporations to have a clout over states,” and to break Europe’s system that guarantees the origin of regional food products, the French minister said.

“There’s a need for substantial changes: trust, reciprocity, access to documents,” Fekl said. “Europe is making one proposal after another and there is no serious feedback or counter-proposal from the U.S.”

The U.S. also has pressed for clearer commitment from Europe that the talks are moving toward a deal. After the previous negotiating round, which took place in Brussels in July, negotiators on both sides said they are working to speed work on all components of the proposed pact, and revised services offers were exchanged.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Monday that the U.S. conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks paves the way for work to speed up talks with Europe.

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