Hundreds of thousands of Germans marched through the streets of seven major cities Saturday in protest of a pair of trade deals being negotiated with the United States and Canada.
Video shared by Instagram user Rainer Wermelt showed a massive crowd in Cologne carrying signs opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada.
A website organizing the march against the yet-to-be ratified trade deals stated the deals “threaten democracy and undermine the rule of law” and encouraged people to gather in protest as the United States and Canada seek to complete the deals by the end of the year.
“We hope that more than 250,000 participants will join in the march nationwide,” Roland Suess from the anti-globalization group Attac told The Local.
An estimated 320,000 demonstrators answered the call by taking to the streets in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart, organizers told CNBC.
The two trade deals have faced opposition from some consumers in the European Union who feel the trade deals “primarily serve the interests of powerful economic interest groups, and thus only cement the imbalance between the common good and economic interests.”
Despite the public protests, U.S. President Barack Obama continues to seek ratification of the TTIP before his presidency ends in January and former U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan Selig sad there is “no legitimate plan B” if the deal is not reached.
The EU and Canada agreed to terms of the CETA in 2014 and both sides plan to officially sign the deal at the EU-Canada Summit in October.
“The trade agreement between the EU and Canada is our best and most progressive trade agreement and I want it to enter into force as soon as possible,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in July. “It provides new opportunities for European companies, while promoting our high standards for the benefit of our citizens.”
A recent German poll however found that 28 percent of respondents doubted if free trade could really bring benefits and 52 percent said it would lead to weaken standards and increasingly inferior products.
A video posted by Rainer Wermelt (@rainerwermelt) on Sep 17, 2016 at 4:40am PDT