Chaos flooded the streets of Berlin. 80,000 protesters gathered, while up to 320,000 others held organized protests in seven other major German cities, to express their strong opposition to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. In 2013, the EU and the US began negotiating a trade deal, hoping to create the world’s largest free trade market of 850 million consumers. The proposed deal promises to lower tariffs, and hopes to promote economic growth overseas. Protesters fear the deal will lead to an increase in outsourcing and unemployment, as it favors industrialized agricultural processes over non-GMO privatized food production. This prioritization would likely cost thousands of jobs and could potentially compromise food safety and employment standards.
A recent survey conducted in Germany concluded that about 28% of respondents doubted free trade would bring any benefits. Another 52% of respondents thought it would lead to weaker standards and lower quality products.
A similar free trade deal, CETA, has garnered mass opposition as well. The Canadian-EU negotiation began in 2009 and is scheduled to be signed on October 27th, 2016. Activists who oppose the deal fear that similar to the TTIP, it could undermine many European standards:
“These agreements will weaken food safety laws, environmental legislation, banking regulations and undermine the sovereign powers of nations. CETA and TTIP threaten environmental and consumer protection for millions of people in Europe and North America.” (Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International)
While free trade advocates insist CETA and TTIP will remove tariffs and boost growth on both sides of the Atlantic, clearly there is a significant lack of public faith in the deals. Although the unrest is sure to continue, German news outlet Die Welt offered a positive idealism: “A further lowering of tariff barriers, the dismantling of bureaucracy and international standardization are rather cost-effective methods to create greater wealth that future generations can benefit from.”