The Washington Post

Support U.S.-EU free trade? The embassy in Berlin wants you!


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been working to secure a free trade deal with Europe. Reuters/Jacquelyn Martin)

Some folks in Europe — farmers, consumer groups, enviros, privacy advocates and others — have strongly opposed  the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that’s now being negotiated.

Opposition in France and Italy had been strong. And now it seems the Germans are looking increasingly askance at the treaty. But the Obama administration,free-trade and business groups are pushing hard for an agreement.

So the U.S. embassy in Berlin is enlisting treaty-supporting Germans — even offering cold, hard cash.

“Are you pro-TTIP and angry at the negative coverage it’s been getting? Send us your ideas and we’ll support you!” the embassy, or “Botschaft,” said in a tweet in German on Friday:

That’s right, the embassy’s public affairs section has launched project “T-TIP: Get Informed! Get Involved.” The section is “soliciting proposals” and offering grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to German non-profits, “non-governmental organizations, think tanks and academic institutions” to get out the real “facts and figures” and to “combat misinformation.”

The embassy suggests things like “short documentaries on T-TIP” or an “Expert Speaker Tour with proposed names for travel (including per diem and honoraria).” You might want to set up a “T-TIP conference. . . that can be live-streamed” or “digital posters in German” or set up a “website devoted to T-TIP.”

The initial reader tweets included a couple who were supportive, some who thought the tweet was a joke and several negative ones, such as: “Your PR for TTIP won’t save this project, no matter how much money you pay” from Maritta Strasser and a rather caustic one from “Unimpeachable,” who tweeted: “TTIP cancels out democracy! This is an attack on all mankind and the environment.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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