Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s trade commissioner, recently received a concerned email from Germany.
A man from the Ruhr Valley city of Dortmund asked whether the night ban on the local airport would be lifted if the European Union concluded the proposed free trade agreement with the United States known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. “Some people out there are convinced that TTIP will bring a lot of misery,” Ms. Malmström said.
Ever since the pro-free market Swedish politician took over as E.U. trade commissioner, she has been struggling to convince opponents of the controversial agreement that it was in Europe’s best interest.
Consumer protection activists caution against a radical lowering of food quality standards, trade unions fear that workers’ rights will be undermined, local authorities worry that it will eat away at their political decision-making power.
TTIP, which British Prime Minister David Cameron once dubbed the “most important trade agreement of all time,” has ignited all sorts of fears in both Europe and America. This coming Saturday, people around the world are planning to protest against proposed the transatlantic treaty.
Ms. Malmström, who was previously E.U. commissioner for home affairs, is supposed to convince Europe’s citizens of the merits of the trade agreement – and at the same time presse the European Union’s case at negotiations with the United States. The ninth round of talks is set to start next week.
The 46-year-old knows that by the end of her term in 2019, her success or failure will be determined by TTIP, even though the outcome is not at all entirely in her hands.
She spends 80 percent of her time on the transatlantic treaty, Ms. Malmström estimated. “People want to be informed,” she said. “They need to feel that they are being listened to.”