Europe threatens to break off India free-trade talks

BRUSSELS, September 27, 2011 (AFP) – European governments are threatening to break off negotiations with India on a free-trade deal the EU had hoped would be worth 175 billion euros a year, an EU report revealed on Tuesday. Four years after talks began with New Delhi, frustrated European Union trade ministers have taken the decision to signal a fixed deadline for the deal of February 2012, at an already delayed bilateral summit.

Otherwise, they say, the offer would come off the table.

“A message will be passed to India that if by the time of the summit there is no agreement, there would need to be a pause in the negotiations,” ministers agreed according to an official report on the talks seen by AFP.

An EU official confirmed the drastic threat, and said that of the 27 EU states, only Denmark spoke out against the high-risk strategy during the talks on Monday.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht debriefed the ministers on a plan for fall-back positions which could see the EU accept less than it wanted in certain core areas.

Painstaking negotiations have been dragged down by big disagreements over “cars, wines, spirits and services,” according to an official who attended the talks.


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