European Union ministers are acknowledging that free trade talks between the European Union and the United States are being continually opposed by advocacy groups who are fighting against such issues as globalization, multinationals, and more. The rise of these groups' influence on negotiations, along with reports that the U.S. has been spying in Europe and that trade agreements are favored by big companies (who are helping to craft the language of some of these treaties) has proven to be a challenge to EU officials.
"We are grappling with people who are anti-European, who are anti-American, who are anti-free trade, who are anti-globalization and who are anti-multinational corporations," Finland's minister for Europe and trade, Alexander Stubb, told his EU counterparts and business leaders at a meeting in Athens.
"We have an uphill battle to make the argument that this EU-U.S. free-trade agreement is a good one," he said in remarks that were broadcast to reporters.
Of course, what many EU ministers fail to mention is that most of these treaties are negotiated in secret, allowing companies and other interests to inject language about copyright and patents that would strongly affect citizens in countries throughout the European Union and in the United States. Leaks about ACTA's language are ultimately what turned the public against the trade agreement.
More transparency would probably go a lot farther in making it easier to get trade agreements ratified with the European Union and in North America. Critics believe there isn't a lot of transparency in the process because most of these trade agreements are loaded with laws and regulations that favor various corporate interests..