World Economy

Protesters Across Europe Condemn TTIP Trade Deal

Protesters Across Europe Condemn TTIP Trade Deal Protesters Across Europe Condemn TTIP Trade Deal

Thousands of people marched in Berlin, Munich and other German cities on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they fear will erode food, labor and environmental standards.

Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is particularly high in Germany, in part due to rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of US spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google, Reuters said.

A recent YouGov poll showed that 43 percent of Germans believe TTIP would be bad for the country, compared to 26 percent who see it as positive.

The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel's government and German industry by surprise, and they are now scrambling to reverse the tide and save a deal which proponents say could add $100 billion in annual economic output on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Berlin, a crowd estimated by police at 1,500 formed a human chain winding from the Potsdamer Platz square, past the US embassy and through the Brandenburg Gate to offices of the European Commission.

In Munich, police put the crowd at 3,000, while organizers Attac estimated it at 15,000. Hundreds also marched in Leipzig, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and other European cities on what Attac hailed as a "global day of action" against free trade, though the protests appeared to be largest in Germany.

“We are convinced that the entire public interest is at stake, whether water, energy, health, and public transport. The communities are largely deprived of their ability to act,” Organizers in the German town of Schnaittach said.

"I think this deal will open the door to genetically-modified foods here," said Jennifer Ruffatto, 28, who works with handicapped people and was pushing her baby in a stroller. "Companies will gain from this at the expense of people."

Helmut Edelhauesser, a 52-year-old from Brandenburg, said he would prefer a free trade deal with Russia.

"The US push for world domination is unacceptable," he told Reuters. "Obama sends out drones to kill people and wins the Nobel peace prize. This has to stop."

Marchers held up posters reading "People have a right to food not profits" and "Beware the TTIP trap – companies win, people lose!"

After the excesses of the Gestapo secret police under the Nazis and the Stasi in communist East Germany, Germans are also particularly sensitive to official surveillance. Revelations in 2013 that the US had bugged Merkel's mobile phone provoked outrage across the country.

Merkel has spoken out repeatedly in favor of TTIP, but her coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), are deeply divided. Their leader Sigmar Gabriel, the economy minister and a TTIP convert, has promised a formal party vote on any deal.

Protests in Poland

Polish protesters gathered in the capital Warsaw to rally against a new round of deals of TTIP, PAP reported.

The protesters congregated in front of the European Commission with a large construction shaped like a Trojan horse. This, the organizers said, symbolized the international corporations which stand to profit from a deal such as TTIP.

“The best thing Poland and Europe can do is to re-engage in multilateral talks with the World Trade Organization. Unfortunately, the European Union and the United States are trying to take a shortcut, to get along with each other, then get the rest of the world to provide privileges for these corporations,” one of the organizers of the Polish protest, Marcin Wojtalik, said.

“These deals do not benefit the majority of Poles, only shareholders of the corporations,” he added.

Other Cities

Crowds have also protested in London, Brussels and other major European cities against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and similar secretive international trade deals, RT reported.

Protesters said, TTIP and similar deals will endanger workers rights and the environment, as well as potentially leading to the privatization of public services and an influx of unregulated genetically-modified foods.

Meanwhile, in Spain's capital Madrid, over 20,000 people came out to have their voice heard. Another 4,000 showed up in Barcelona to protest against the proposed agreement.

The deal would translate into “an enormous setback for the rights acquired by the Europeans, and consolidation of corporate power against states and people,” organizer Juan Antonio Lopez de Uralde told the crowd.


The agreement is being negotiated behind closed doors, with the next round of talks scheduled for Monday in New York.

It will open free trade between the EU and the US, bringing down restrictions on the flow of goods. Its sister agreement, CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), is aimed at achieving similar links between the EU and Canada.

TTIP is expected to be finalized by early 2016. It will become the most important and all-encompassing agreement of its kind, covering a market of over 800 million people. Its supporters hail the possible $100 billion yearly boost in trade between the EU and US.