Merkel Says NSA Scandal is Harming Talks on US-EU Trade Deal

German Chancellor
Angela Merkel
has told German lawmakers that, “The relationship
with the U.S. and the negotiation of a trans-Atlantic free trade
agreement are currently, without doubt, being put to the test by
the accusations that have been aired against the U.S. about the
gathering of millions of bits of data.”

Merkel’s comments are only the latest indication that Edward
Snowden’s revelations have damaged negotiations on a E.U.-U.S.
trade deal. In July, the French called for the negotiations to be
suspended in the wake of
that the U.S. had spied on European diplomats.

Although Merkel describes the deal as a “free trade agreement,”
it is unlikely to resemble an agreement that would be lauded by
supporters of capitalism once European and American lawmakers are
done working on it. The deal will have to be approved by each E.U.
member state, the European Parliament, and the American Congress,
hardly institutions with great track records when it comes to free

In June, I wrote about how special interests
will screw up this deal
, citing the example of the French, who
wanted their film and television industries exempted from the
talks. Unsurprisingly, American lawmakers
have said
that the U.S. supporting the agreement is conditional
on the E.U. removing barriers to American farm exports. The E.U.
has tight regulations on genetically modified food, which is of
understandable concern to American policy makers considering that
90 percent
of American soybeans, corn, cotton and sugar beets
are genetically modified. E.U. Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht

has said
that European regulations on genetically modified will
not be changed.

Given the Snowden revelations it should not be surprising if it
is some time before American negotiators will be in a comfortable
position to be asking Europeans to remove barriers to American farm
exports or make any other policy changes.

from Hit & Run

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