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240 arrested at trade protest in Brussels

Photo from Corporate Europe Observatory.

Photo from Corporate Europe Observatory.

Opposition to the European Union-United States ‘free trade’ agreement is growing! reports, “240 people were arrested on Thursday (15 May) around the European Business Summit venue in Brussels during non-violent protests organised by trade unions and citizens’ groups. The protestors had gathered to denounce the budgetary austerity policies in Europe, and the ongoing talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the USA…”

Reuters notes, “Banging drums, around 500 people tried to form a human chain around a business conference in Brussels, hours before the EU’s trade chief and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union spoke to defend the project.”

The unions opposing the summit and TTIP declared, “When Mexico and the United States twenty years ago started NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Area, they said it would create a million jobs. They’ve lost millions of jobs. Even the figures coming from the European Commission say that very, very little jobs will be created, but people must know that this possible creation of jobs – that never occurs – is only for some little groups, for the richest people. The free trade area between EU and USA will destroy jobs, social protection and environmental rights, especially in the South, the East and for the poor in Europe.”

The International Business Times adds, “Three of the arrested were members of the Belgian parliament, representing the ECOLO party. They are Anne Herscovici, Alain Maron and Ahmed Muhsin. …ECOLO spokesperson Franco Meggetto says that the party is ‘philosophically’ opposed to TTIP, which he says will threaten European consumers. He pointed to the US use of ammonia in poultry breeding and its use of genetically modified organisms, which could be introduced to the European market if the treaty is ratified.”

Those backing the protest include Allianz D19-20, a coalition of protest groups, the European Trade Union Confederation, the CNE-CNG, the Belgian trade union for employees, Corporate Europe Observatory, the Coalizione Centri Sociale, and the Blockupy International Coordinating Committee.

The 5th round of TTIP talks begin in Washington this Monday and officials are stating their aim is to reach a deal by the end of 2015.

Euronews notes, “From Germany to Greece there is growing hostility to the proposed deal … which is uniting far-left and far-right parties running in European Parliament elections next week.”