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French, German TTIP Criticism Caused by Election Campaign Start

Politicians in France and Germany are using criticism of the unpopular EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in order to gain voter support as election campaigns in both countries begin, Foreign Trade Association Head of International Trade Policy Pierre-Michael Groening told Sputnik on Wednesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande and German Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel suggested in separate statements that it would be impossible to conclude the TTIP agreement before the end of the year.

"Government politicians from both Germany and France have been raising doubts and criticism about the content and scope of the agreement for many months. More attention is now given to TTIP and trade policy because of the respective election campaigns kicking off. It seems that disapproving EU trade negotiations is an easy way to gain voters even though most of the heated arguments are not founded," Groening said.

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According to a poll held by the German ARD broadcaster in May, a total of 70 percent of Germans believed that the TTIP would bring "mostly disadvantages." Over 60 percent of respondents believe France should quit the TTIP talks, according to a poll held by SumOfUs watchdog and Harris Interactive market research company in June.

According to Gabriel, the TTIP negotiations had effectively failed as Brussels has refused to go along with some of Washington’s demands that could violate environmental legislation, banking procedures and investment rights.

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TTIP seeks to establish a free trade zone between the United States and Europe. The US government started discussions on the draft deal with the European Union in 2013. The details of TTIP, including specific rules of market access, have not been released to the public. The TTIP agreement has drawn severe criticism for the lack of transparency in the negotiations as well as for the tremendous power it would potentially give to international corporations.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest announced on Tuesday that President Barack Obama would send US trade ambassador Michael Froman to Europe in September to continue negotiations on TTIP ahead of the 15th round of talks expected to take place in October.

France is expecting a two-step presidential election on April 23 and May 7, 2017. Germany's federal elections to the Bundestag are yet to be scheduled but they should take place no later than October 22, 2017.

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