Germans Rally Against Planned EU Trade Deals With US, Canada
Tens of thousands of people marched through major German cities Saturday to protest against planned European Union free trade deals with the United States and Canada. Opponents of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) have said the pacts would undermine democracy and lower food safety, environmental and labor standards. In Berlin, demonstrators waved banners reading "Stop CETA – Stop TTIP" and "People over profits". An alliance of environmental groups, labor unions and opposition parties that called the protests said 320,000 people took part in rallies organized in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart. Police put the figure at around 180,000 and said the marches had been peaceful. Smaller protests were also planned in other European cities, including Vienna and Salzburg in Austria and Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden. Supporters of the deals have maintained that such trade pacts would boost the global economy. Negotiations on CETA have already concluded, and the treaties are awaiting the approval of European Union member states. TTIP is still being negotiated, with the next round of talks slated for early October in New York. While the Obama administration is hoping to complete the deal before the end of the president's term, recent comments from French and German finance ministers have cast doubt on the agreements viability.