SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith MEP has today (Tuesday) hailed the comments of French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl that the long running and controversial EU-US Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks are "totally blocked" as an important indicator of how the talks are going.
TTIP is controversial across Europe, with a number of member states promoting the deal in the interests of free trade, but with concern over the possibility that public services could be threatened and regulatory standards weakened in the course of the talks. The deal is being negotiated by the European Commission under delegated authority from the 28 member states, and will not come into force unless the member states agree and the package is approved by a majority of the Members of the European Parliament on behalf of the citizens of Europe.
The SNP MEPs have set out clear red lines on the process, and have fought for maximum transparency in the talks. There have been some successes, with MEPs being granted access to the documents. A major leak this week saw a number of these documents released in the 'TTIP Leaks' which confirmed that the deal as it presently stands remains unacceptable to the SNP. There remains scope for the deal to be improved, but the French Minister's comments confirm that this assessment of TTIP is shared across a number of member state capitals.
The comments came as the Minister was interviewed in the French Radio Europe-1, saying that negotiations "are totally blocked" and a halt to talks "is the most probable option." He insisted on better farming and environmental protections, and said "in its current state, France cannot sign it." Major disagreements remain after a 13th round of talks last week, and the U.S. election campaign is complicating negotiations. Fekl argued that "Europe is giving a lot ... but receiving very little in return."
"I and the SNP have remained in this process in order to maximise our influence over it, as it is possible that a better TTIP could still be negotiated and anything that will boost the Scottish economy must be looked at on its merits. But we have also been quite clear on our red lines, and if the final form of the TTIP deal does not match our expectations we will vote against.
"It is now clear after the TTIP leaks and the refreshingly frank comments of Minister Fekl that this sensible and grown up approach is shared by Paris. The Minister is quite right, the package as it stands gives away too much in the way of farming and environmental protections, and that combined with the regulatory impact upon the provision of public services shows that the negotiators still have a lot of ground to cover.
"The Minister is also quite right to reflect upon the impact of the US Presidential elections on the talks. I share his view that the political will to achieve a deal is waning on the US side as well as the European. A trade deal is possible, and in principle desirable, but I remain unconvinced that TTIP is it. I think it is time to rip it up and start again with a more achievable set of aims and the active agreement of the populations we all serve."
The French Government official communique on TTIP can be found (in english) here.
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