A planned free trade agreement between the EU and the US will lead to lower wages and weaker consumer standards, trade unions and NGOs said on Thursday.
Some 200 anti-globalisation demonstrators gathered outside the European Commission in Brussels as trade negotiators from both sides of the Atlantic met in the Belgian capital.
Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, told euronews: “We believe that these negotiations are going much further than a trade deal endangering our environmental and healthy standards.”
A number of civil society organisations say that the lack of transparency surrounding the talks means ordinary people are not getting their say.
“This new free trade agreement is the most catastrophic,” said one unnamed protester. “If it’s signed, let’s not joke around, democracy is no more.”
Supporters dismiss those claims, saying the free trade deal will boost jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
Marc Van Heukelen, chief advisor to EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, agreed to meet with the demonstrators.
He said: “There are 1,300 treaties agreed between European countries and the rest of the world. So don’t make out here that this is completely new.”
Euronews correspondent Efi Koutsokosta reports that Germany a petition against the deal has garnered 500.000 signatures.
The petition is designed to put further pressure on the EU to consider the interests of NGOs and trade unions, our correspondent adds.