• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
French celebs blast EU-US trade treaty
French lumaries have launched a call to end France's involvement in a free trade pact with the US. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

French celebs blast EU-US trade treaty

Joshua Melvin · 10 Jul 2014, 14:39

Published: 10 Jul 2014 14:39 GMT+02:00

One year into the negotiations to create a free trade zone that would span the Atlantic Ocean and some of France’s leading luminaries are demanding Europe should pull out of the talks now.

The 100 performers, writers, political leaders and thinkers are the first signatories of a petition that argues the negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would create the Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA), are being done in secret at the peril of France’s future.

“These opaque negotiations are happening behind our back and the backs of Europeans and North Americans,” the collective wrote. “Under the cover of a hypothetical relaunch of economic growth, these negotiations are likely to lower our social, economic, health, cultural and environmental standards.”

"It’s the reason we are calling on French and European members of parliament to put pressure on EU members and the European Commission to disrupt the negotiations," the statement read.

Some of the prominent signatories of the call to action sponsored by the collective “Stop TAFTA” include far-left firebrand Jean Luc Mélenchon, actress Marianne Denicourt and comedian Christophe Alevêque.

Despite opposition, Washington and Brussels hope the free trade deal will deliver a major boost to growth and jobs, especially in Europe where the euro debt crisis has left the economy stuck in the doldrums.

France’s moribund economy and record unemployment has stirred up anger and frustration, which voters have expressed in recent “punishment” defeats for the ruling Socialists in local and European elections.

This proposed accord would be the world's largest Free Trade Agreement, with bilateral trade in goods last year worth some €500 billion ($670 billion), services worth another €280 billion and investment flows hitting the trillions.

The EU says it would add some €119 billion annually to the EU economy and €95 billion for the United States.

However, the personalities who have signed the petition are tapping into a growing portion of the country that has grown wary of the agreement and the cost of the growth it claims to offer.

One worry is that the agreement would pave the way for American food products, like hormone-treated beef and genetically modified corn, which is illegal to grow in France, to more easily enter the European market.  There are also concerns that the lowering of trade barriers would permit large multinational corporation to consolidate their control of certain industries.

Comedian Christophe Alevêque, who's also an activist, believes it’s time for people to stand up to big business.

“The problem is that humanity, the environment, culture and social protections are second to the all mighty market,” Alevêque told French daily Le Parisien.

“It’s these same merchants to whom we’ve given the keys to the house. Now we’re adding a few more keys to their ring. We have nothing left. There must be a firewall, a little bit of control, to make sure humans are a bit more at the centre of our concerns.”

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
View from the rue
What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?
Photo: AFP

With 64 percent of the French against burqinis at the beach, what do the Parisians think?

Almost half of France now on heatwave alert
Children cool off in Nice's fountains. Photo: AFP

Orange alerts - the second highest level - were issued to 43 départements as France's heatwave shows no signs of stopping.

France's top ten beaches to survive the heatwave
Photo: Gomezdegomera/Flickr

Temperatures are soaring... why not head to the beach?

Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
People taking part in activities in the Bassin de la Villette. Photo: AFP

If you fancy a rare chance to swim along the Paris canal system, here comes your chance.

French wine output drops 10 percent after stormy weather
A vineyard in Valfaunes partially destroyed after a violent hailstorm near the southern city of Montpellier. Photo: AFP

Bad weather has pushed wine production in France down ten percent this year.

Migrants armed with sticks hold up truck driver in Calais
Migrants standing near the Calais motorway. File photo: AFP

The driver involved says he deals with similar incidents "every night".

Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
The burqini ban in 30 French towns has provoked debate worldwide. Photo: AFP

Almost two thirds of French people said they're against the controversial swimwear.

Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Photo: Thomas Heylen/Flickr

A few things you need to know about interning in France.

Police arrest Lyon man who 'talked of attack plans'
French soldiers patrolling the Part-Dieu train station last year. Photo: AFP

The man had talked about plans to attack a busy district in central Lyon.

France's burqini ban goes before country's top court
A woman models the burqini swimsuit. Photo: AFP

France's highest administrative court will on Thursday examine a request to scrap a ban on the Islamic burqini swimsuit.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
'To boycott France is to surrender to terrorists'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
21 photos to make you want to come to France right now
Society
This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese
National
French MP's call for Facebook ID cards blasted 'as idiotic'
Travel
Summer checklist: Fourteen great travel ideas for France
Travel
Here's why France is still world's top tourist destination
'Wealthy American tourists' snub France over terror fears
National
Where to go swimming in France (and where to avoid)
2,741
jobs available