Cecilia Malmström received a warning from her staff when she took over the post of European trade commissioner this month: Watch out for the Social Democrats.
The cautionary note referred to ongoing negotiations between the United States and the European Union over a ground-breaking trans-Atlantic free-trade deal. Europe’s left-leaning political parties could well decide whether the deal passes muster, and many members have been openly skeptical.
“Our (European) standards in areas such as consumer rights, workers’ rights, cultural policies and public sector programs cannot be lowered,” Ralf Stegner, the deputy parliamentary party leader of the SPD in Germany’s Bundestag, told Handelsblatt.
Social Democrats hold “a much more important role than previously, as it will be impossible to get a majority in parliament without their approval,” Ms. Malmström was warned in an internal paper prepared by her staff. “This could require a shift in policy.”
Perhaps that is why Ms. Malmström has made Berlin her first destination since taking over as trade commissioner. She will meet on Monday afternoon with some key people she needs if the trade deal, known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, has any hope of surviving.