Protests in Brussels Due to EU-US Trade Deal

Written by | Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

On Friday (April 4), the European capital was taken aback by protests that burst out in front of the American Embassy following the briefing of the newly appointed US Ambassador on the EU-US free trade agreement (TTIP). The crowd included many – between 25,000 and 50,000 – people from Belgium’s trade unions, who decided to march near the US Embassy in Brussels towards the EU district. Protesters grieved about many things, but mostly “austerity” and “wage dumping”.
People complained about transnational corporations and the consequences of globalization. Many placards said “Europe: owned by wolves, governed by dogs” while others said “EU yes, TTIP no” referring to the acronym of a controversial draft of the EU-US free trade deal. Demonstrators voiced anger also by throwing stones and firecrackers at the building of the US Embassy as well as at the EU external relations building and a perfume shop. Brussels police used water cannons to fight demonstrators, while the personnel of the US mission were ordered to stay inside and keep away from windows.
What media called “a lock-down” of the American embassy has occurred for the first time since 2003 when the Embassy faced anti-Iraq protests. This time, protests were triggered off by a press briefing by the new US ambassador to the EU, Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, who had called press and media to pinpoint his priorities after taking over the position in mid-March.
He said that his most important tenet would be to support the TTIP. He emphasized that he was very worried about some “narratives that were gaining ground in some EU member countries, many of which were based on misinformation”. Ambassador Gardner also added that he had reviewed a great number of studies saying that the TTIP would promote economic growth and job creation. In his opinion, claims that large multinationals will reap all the benefits of the agreement or that consumer protection will be undermined are but pure fallacies.

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