A quarter of a million people marched in Berlin on Saturday to oppose a planned free trade deal between the European Union and the United States.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal is claimed to be anti-democratic and to threaten food safety and environmental standards.
Christoph Bautz, director of citizens’ movement Campact told protesters in a speech: “This is the biggest protest that this country has seen for many, many years”
The Guardian reports:
The environmental groups, charities and opposition parties that organised the protest claimed 250,000 people took part, while a police spokesman said 100,000 attended. Smaller protests were also held in other cities, including Amsterdam, with a rally due to be held in London on Saturday night at which shadow chancellor John McDonnell is scheduled to speak.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would create the world’s largest free-trade zone, encompassing some 800 million consumers, and harmonise regulation between the EU and North America in areas ranging from food safety law to environmental rules and banking regulations. It would mean that cars made in Britain could be sold in the US, for example, but opponents say it would water down important EU regulations.
The European commission reckons that the TTIP could boost the size of the EU economy by €120bn (£85bn) – equal to 0.5% of GDP – and the US economy by €95bn, or 0.4% of GDP, while the UK could be £10bn better off.
However, opposition has escalated over the past year in Germany and other European countries, with critics pointing out that the deal will give too much power to multinational companies at the expense of consumers and workers.
Negotiations have mostly been conducted in secret. Dieter Bartsch, the deputy leader of Germany’s parliamentary group for the Left party, said he was concerned about the lack of transparency: “We definitely need to know what is supposed to be being decided.”