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Protests against Atlantic free trade deals across Europe

Tens of thousands in German cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt protest against the trade deal. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Berlin, Germany Sep 17, 2016, 10.10 PM (IST)
Tens of thousands of people rallied across seven German cities to protest the controversial transatlantic trade deals.

Police were deployed in large numbers to monitor the protests in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt.

Smaller protests were also planned in other European cities, including Vienna and Salzburg in Austria and Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden.

The environmental groups and labour unions claim the free-trade deals with the United States and Canada would undermine democracy and lower food safety, environmental and labour standards.

While exporters are in favour of the deal that promises lower tariffs and a wider base of consumers, the consumers in Europe fear it would it would lead to more outsourcing and consequently job losses. 

The European Union executives are negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.

Activists say the pacts would hand too much power to big multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers by establishing arbitration courts to settle disputes between companies and governments.

However, a hopeful German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said EU should keep negotiating with US over the free trade deal. 

The next round of negotiations is slated for October 3 in New York. The partnership aims to create the world's biggest free trade market comprising of 850 million consumers.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
 
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