Free-trade talks between the European Union and the United States have failed, Germany’s Economy Minister said Sunday, citing a lack of progress on any of the major sections of the long-running negotiations.
Both Washington and Brussels have pushed for a deal by the end of the year, despite strong misgivings among some EU member states over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, compared the TTIP negotiations unfavourably with a free-trade deal forged between the 28-member EU and Canada, which he said was fairer for both sides.
“In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” Mr. Gabriel said during a question-and-answer session with citizens in Berlin.
He noted that in 14 rounds of talks, the two sides haven’t agreed on a single common item out of 27 chapters being discussed.
Mr. Gabriel accused Washington of being “angry” about the deal that the EU struck with Canada, known as CETA, because it contains elements the United States doesn’t want to see in the TTIP.
In Washington, there was no immediate comment from the office of the U.S. trade representative.
Mr. Gabriel’s ministry isn’t directly involved in the negotiations with Washington because trade agreements are negotiated at the EU level. But such a damning verdict from a leading official in Europe’s biggest economy is likely to make further talks between the EU executive and the Obama administration harder.
Mr. Gabriel’s comments contrast with those of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said last month that TTIP was “absolutely in Europe’s interest.”Report Typo/Error