Thousands protest in Berlin against EU-US trade deal

Up to 250,000 people rally in German capital against free-trade accord they argue threatens consumer and worker rights.

    Thousands protest in Berlin against EU-US trade deal
    Several trains and more than 600 buses had been chartered to transport protesters to the capital [Reuters]

    Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Berlin against a massive free-trade accord being negotiated by the European Union and the United States.

    Responding to a call by a group of political parties, trade unions and environmental and anti-globalisation groups, the demonstrators gathered at the city's main train station for a march through the German capital.

    Organisers said 250,000 people showed up to the protest on Saturday, much more than the 50,000 to 100,000 expected to take part.

    Police said about 100,000 participated in the protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) under negotiation between Washington and Brussels, as well as a similar deal with Canada.

    "Never before have we seen so many people take to the streets for this issue," the German trade union confederation, the DGB, which helped organise the protest, said.

    Several trains and more than 600 buses had been chartered to transport protesters to the capital, who marched carrying signs that read "Stop TTIP" and "TTIP signals climatic shipwreck."

    Talks on the pact between the US and the 28-nation European Union, which would be the world's biggest trade deal if completed, began in 2013 and the two sides aim to conclude them by 2016.

    Opponents say the deal threatens consumer and worker rights and is undemocratic.

    "We are here because we do not want to leave the future to markets, but on the contrary, to save democracy," said Michael Mueller, president of the ecological organisation German Friends of Nature.

    Campaigners are particularly angered over Washington's insistence that as part of the pact, private companies be allowed to sue governments before special tribunals.

    SOURCE: AFP


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