EU to push on with US trade deal despite Brexit vote

People read classified papers from the ongoing US-EU trade talks, presented to the public by Greenpeace in a glass container near the Brandenburger Gate, in Berlin on May 2, 2016.
People read classified papers from the ongoing US-EU trade talks, presented to the public by Greenpeace in a glass container near the Brandenburger Gate, in Berlin on May 2, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The EU will push forward with efforts to seal a huge trade pact with the US despite the "unprecedented situation" after Britain's vote to leave the bloc, its trade commissioner said Monday (June 27).

Cecilia Malmstroem said she would fly to Washington on Tuesday for fresh talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which both sides want to seal by end-2016.

But the process has been thrown into turmoil by the referendum result in which Britain - one of the countries pushing most strongly for the deal - as a majority voted to leave the 28-nation union.

In a further blow French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday blasted the planned US-EU deal, saying it was against "EU interests."

 

"In this unprecedented situation, let me stress that we are clear and united in our response with regard to EU trade policy... Our negotiations with key partners will continue," Malmstroem said in a statement.

She said she was "determined to make as much progress as possible in the months to come", especially on TTIP, adding that "I will travel to Washington D.C. tomorrow to meet my counterpart, in order to advance further in these negotiations." The EU would also press on with efforts to ratify a trade deal with Canada, she added.

Brussels and Washington have been pushing to resolve remaining issues by year's end, coinciding with the end of Barack Obama's presidency. The next round of negotiations is expected in July.

But the project has been facing mounting opposition in parts of Europe, especially in France and Germany, where critics say the talks have been conducted in secret and fear a far-reaching impact on agriculture and the environment.