Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel yesterday said that talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — the free trade deal being negotiated by the US and the EU — has essentially “failed”.

“The negotiations with the USA have de facto failed because we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to American demands,” he said. 

“Things are not moving on that front,” said Mr Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor.

The US and the EU have been negotiating the TTIP for three years and both sides had sought to conclude talks this year but they have differences over various issues, including agriculture.

Mr Gabriel also yesterday warned about Brexit; saying if Britain’s exit from the EU was badly handled and other countries followed its lead, Europe would go “down the drain”.

“Brexit is bad but it won’t hurt us as much economically as some fear — it’s more of a psychological problem and it’s a huge problem politically,” he told a news conference, noting the world was now looking at Europe as an unstable continent.

“If we organise Brexit in the wrong way, then we’ll be in deep trouble so now we need to make sure we don’t allow Britain to keep the nice things, so to speak, related to Europe while taking no responsibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble renewed his criticism of the ECB’s low interest rates, at the weekend, saying they were particularly damaging for people saving up for their retirement.

“In the long run, the consequences of low interest rates or even negative interest rates are harmful, such as for retirement provisions,” he told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszei tung.

He said it was only possible to start putting an end to loose monetary policy by implementing structural reforms and more investment. 

Mr Schaeuble has repeatedly warned of the dangers of the ECB’s low-rate policy and said in June that the German government believes low interest rates should only be around for a limited period.


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