Thousands of people have thronged the streets in several German cities to oppose upcoming trade deals – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), with the United States and Canada, respectively.
The organisers of "Stop TTIP & CETA - for a fair world trade" protests demonstrating in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich are concerned about certain 'controversial' provisions of the deals that may have a negative effect on consumers.
"We hope that more than 250,000 participants will join in the march nationwide," Roland Suss of the anti-globalisation group Attac, one of the organisers of the demonstrations, was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle.
However, some are suggesting that the protests are not backed by accurate reasons and the general mood of scepticism is only prevailing due to fear mongering tactics. Stories about mass imports of chlorine-drenched chickens or the destruction of independent bookshops have also reportedly spread in mass emails and internet memes, according to the Economist.
But the fact is that strongly growing public scepticism is making the free-trade agreements a hard sell. In a poll conducted by the European Commission in May, 59 per cent of Germans opposed TTIP, compared to the EU average of 34 per cent. A more recent poll by Paris-based Ipsos Institute showed that about 28 per cent of Germans had doubts about the trade pacts' advantages and about 52 per cent believe the agreements would weaken standards and result in the import of defective products.
Hard to predict if this means the end of the deal, but trade officials in Brussels and Washington say that they want to complete the negotiations for the TTIP before US President Barack Obama leaves office in January next year, according to Deutsche Welle. Here are some photos of the protest: