U.S. protectionism is being blamed by French and German government ministers for important free trade talks between the U.S. and the European Union teetering on the brink of collapse.
“Those who are protectionist are Americans, Europe is very open,” Matthias Fekl, France’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, told CNBC on Monday.
France is prepared to walk away from the negotiations for the high-profile Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) if no progress is made, he added.
Fekl’s comments come after Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, said over the weekend that TTIP has failed, but “nobody is really admitting it”. Gabriel is likely to be campaigning against pro-TTIP Chancellor Angela Merkel next year.
Later on Monday, a spokesperson for the European Commission insisted the “ball is still rolling” on the deal.