Up to 350,000 protesters, according to figures from the organizers, took to the streets of Berlin, Frankfurt and five other cities in Germany in protest against the planned free trade agreements of the EU with the United States (TTIP) and Canada’s (CETA) .
Berlin’s march started around noon in the central Alexanderplatz towards the old sector of the German capital, with some 70,000 participants, according to police figures.
In Frankfurt, the march brought together some 25,000 people, police said, a figure that the conveners rise to double that number, as they marched towards the Old Opera Square to the city center.
Meanwhile, other thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Cologne, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart, with participation counts ranging between 15,000 and 40,000 attendees each.
Police deployed heavy security operations, in particular in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial and banking capital.
Both in that city and Berlin, protests were accompanied by musical performances and a display of placards with slogans such as “Stop CETA and TTIP – for a fair world trade”, in a festive atmosphere and without incidents.
The organizers of the day of action ranging from political parties, such as Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left, to unions, environmentalists and religious groups, all require immediate interruption of the negotiations with the US and the suspension of the ratification of the agreement with Canada.
In Germany there is great reluctance among the population for fear that lower quality standards, in social and environmental aspects of the agreements will turn Europe into a fertile bed for the arrival and spread of genetically engineered foods.
Today’s march coincided with the return to the country’s economy minister, vice chancellor and Social Democrat leader, Sigmar Gabriel, after a visit to Canada. The trip served to tweak the details of CETA, whose approval shall be submitted to the parliaments of EU Member States.
Discrepancies in TTIP negotiations with the US have created friction in the coalition government of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in Berlin.
In a recent statement to the German public television, Gabriel himself said that the negotiations were a failure.
Subsequently, government sources nuanced that Chancellor Angela Merkel believes it is still possible to sign the agreement.
German industry has asked the German government to speak with one voice and highlights the advantages of TTIP.
It is considered that the recent demands from the European Commission in which it seeks to punish Apple to return $13 billion euros in unpaid taxes may hinder further negotiations.
One of the issues that has created difficulties in the negotiations are European designations of origin for agricultural and livestock sectors, as the US does not want to recognise or respect the way things are done in Europe.
Today’s mobilization followed the massive march that was staged at the German capital last October, with some 150,000 participants, according to the police balance, or 250,000, according to figures released by the organizers.
Last April another great march took place in Hannover on the eve of the working visit to the German city by US President Barack Obama.