Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel of Germany, the EU's biggest
economy, said on Sunday that negotiations over the Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) had failed because
Europe rejected some U.S. demands.
Asked to comment on Gabriel's remarks, a European Commission
spokesman said "the ball is still rolling" on TTIP.
"Although trade talks take time, the ball is rolling right now
and the Commission is making steady progress in the ongoing TTIP
negotiations," Margaritis Schinas told a news conference.
"Talks are now indeed entering crucial stage as we have
proposals for almost all chapters on the table and a good sense
of the outline of the future agreement."
Three years of negotiations failed to resolve multiple
differences, including over food and environmental safety, with
critics saying the pact would hand too much power to big
multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers.
Backers of a sweeping U.S.-EU free trade deal see it bringing
economic gains on both sides of the Atlantic. EU trade ministers
will discuss the issue when they next meet in Bratislava on
Schinas said the Commission was still ready to finalize the deal
by the end of the year but not at the expense of "Europe's
safety, health, social and data protection standards, or our
Britain's June vote to leave the EU has further clouded the
picture, though Schinas insisted Brussels was still negotiating
on behalf of all 28 members of the bloc, including London.
But the prospect of a Brexit has triggered fresh doubt that TTIP
could be completed in the final months of U.S. President Barack
Obama's term, as well as over Britain's exact status in any deal
as London ponders its future ties with the EU.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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