The negotiation of the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States is about much more than just the trade of goods. What is at stake is the two major economic and trade powers of the world making advances to set new rules and standards for the global economy, touching on genuinely political questions of risk governance, environmental and consumer protection, labour rights and forms of production and investment on a global scale. In this sense, it is no surprise that the responses to the negotiation of TTIP on both sides of the Atlantic has been so contentious: While free trade has become one of the hot button issues of the US presidential campaign, protesters in Germany and other European countries have started to march the streets to protest against TTIP, calling it undemocratic, a threat to the rights of workers and a step towards the influx of Frankenstein foods such as chlorine chicken and hormone beef. But what in the public backlash against transatlantic trade is myth and what expresses well-informed political concerns?
Professor Frank Wendler addressed these questions on May 3rd, in a talk titled “Fear and Loathing in the Debate on TTIP: Who Is Afraid of the EU-US Free Trade Agreement?” in Dempsey Hall on campus. The talk gave insights into the main issues and problems of the negotiations about TTIP, and discussed the public response to its negotiation in European countries. The talk was followed by a lively half-hour of questions from the audience, who posed specific question about Germany, the ISDS mechanism, and the US presidential campaign.
Frank Wendler is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and the Jackson School of International Studies. He teaches on topics of European integration, comparative politics in Europe, and international relations with a focus on the development of the European Union as a Global Actor. He works at the University of Washington as part of an exchange program sponsored by DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service), and has held previous positions at the University of Frankfurt/Main (Germany), the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands), and the Social Science Research Center (WZB Berlin).