Protests in Germany over free trade pacts between EU, US and Canada

Berlin, Sep 17 (IANS) Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Berlin and six other cities in Germany on Saturday to protest the two planned free trade agreements between the European Union, the US and Canada.

Marches started at noon in Berlin’s downtown Alexanderplatz and included around 30,000 protesters, police said, Efe news agency reported.

The day of protest was called by trade unions, environmental organisations and religious groups which said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada will result in ecological damage as well as lower quality and social standards in Europe.

Cities including Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt saw large crowds come out in protest.

The marches came in the wake of a march held in Berlin in October that attracted at least 1,50,000 protesters, according to the police.

Saturday’s marches coincided with the return to Germany of its Economy Minister and Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel who had visited Canada where he had dealt with matters linked to CETA.

Gabriel has acknowledged in a recent interview with German television that negotiations with the US over TTIP had “in fact” failed.

His statement was later tempered by German government sources, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that she still saw an agreement as possible, although more negotiations were needed.

–IANS

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