• Germany's news in English
More than 160,000 join German trade deal protest
Protesters in Stuttgart march against TTIP. Photo: Silas Stone / dpa

More than 160,000 join German trade deal protest

AFP · 17 Sep 2016, 09:14

Published: 17 Sep 2016 09:14 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In Berlin, as in Munich, there was a sea of flags as people flocked to join the rallies despite the rain, carrying placards and banners representing dozens of anti-globalisation groups, NGOs, political parties and unions, AFP correspondents said.

"People are not letting their mood be ruined" by the weather, a spokeswoman for the organisers, Kathrin Ottovay, told AFP.

 Roland Suess from anti-globalisation group Attac had earlier told AFP they expected 250,000 people to turn out in seven major German cities -- including some 70,000 in Berlin.

Some organisers put the national turnout as high as 320,000 while police put the figure at between 163,000 and 188,000.

Participants waved banners demanding "democracy instead of TTIP" and "share, don't divide."

The European Union and the United States began negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in 2013, aiming to create the world's biggest free trade market of 850 million consumers.

But the talks have become bogged down amid widespread in Europe that the deal would undercut the 28-nation bloc's standards in key areas such as health and welfare.

A new round of talks is due in October with US President Barack Obama hoping a deal can be concluded before he leaves office in January.

A smaller version of TTIP is also in the works with Canada, and that deal, called CETA, is due to be signed in October. 

Exporters are in favour of the deal as it promises lower tariffs, less red tape and a wider base of consumers for their goods. But in Europe, consumers fear it would ride roughshod over the EU's labour market and environmental standards, and would bring about more outsourcing which would lead to job losses.

There are also concerns over plans for a special court to hear cases by companies against governments over breaches of regulatory issues, which opponents see as giving firms a veto over public policy.

"CETA and TTIP threaten environmental and consumer protection for millions of people in Europe and North America," said Jennifer Morgan, executive director Greenpeace International.

Not only the people, but European governments too are torn over the planned deals. The French government has put up strident opposition, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls demanding an end to the talks while the leader of Europe's biggest economy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, voiced her backing for a deal.

In a recent interview, Merkel noted the high unemployment rate in several EU countries, and said: "we should do everything we can to create jobs -- the free trade agreements are part of that."

But even within her right-left "grand coalition", there is dissent. Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel last month declared that talks on TTIP have "de facto failed". He had also insisted that "Europeans must not give in to (the Americans') demands".

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told Saturday's Bild daily she was aghast at the "misunderstandings, urban myths and outright lies in the debate" on the merits or otherwise of the treaty.

Story continues below…

Suspicion is running high in Germany over the accords.  "In Europe, they need to put people first ... that's why we must stop TTIP," said Berlin rally coordinator Axel Kaiser, representing a group of small- and medium-sized firms opposed to the deal.

A recent Ipsos survey found some 28 percent of respondents doubted if free trade could really bring benefits. More than half (52 percent) say it would lead to weaker standards and spawn increasingly inferior products.

Peter Gauweiler, who left the CDU and resigned as an MP in protest over Merkel's stance in the euro crisis, went as far as to call the proposed treaties "a danger for democracy".

Writing in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, he denounced the proposed special court as a "form of secular sharia of capitalist managers".

But conservative daily Die Welt was more positive. "Before money can be distributed (to the population), it must first come in," wrote its columnist Daniel Eckert. "A further lowering of tariff barriers, the dismantling of bureaucracy and international standardisation are rather cost-effective methods to create greater wealth that future generations can benefit from," he argued.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd