France says halting US-EU trade deal talks "most likely option"

France's minister of state for trade blasted the closed-door negotiations on a free trade deal between the United States and the European Union, saying a halt to the talks was "the most likely option."

Matthias Fekl, in an interview on Europe 1 radio, said that in its current state, France would not sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, underlining concerns over environmental provisions and consumer protections that have plagued the talks since they began.

"It makes no sense to have held the COP21 in Paris in December - this suberb agreement for the environment - and then, just a few months later sign an accord that will unravel it," Fekl said Tuesday. Nearly 200 nations agreed at the UN COP21 conference on the steps for mitigating climate change.

"Commerce is not an end in itself," Fekl added. "Commerce is a tool that should be used in the service of other ends, namely the preservation of the environment."

Fekl decried the unwillingness of the United States to negotiate on key points, saying that a 248-page document leak on Monday by environmental group Greenpeace confirmed his long-held suspicions about the talks. He added that the talks are currently "totally blocked."

The documents show that Washington threatened to block efforts to ease exports of European cars if Europe does not agree to allow the sale of more US agricultural products.

European officials swiftly denied that consumer protections would be watered down, and the US trade representative called the leaks "misleading."

If finalized, TTIP would create the world's largest free trade area with 800 million people.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25

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