By Peter Spiegel
When President Barack Obama announced he would seek a sweeping trade deal with Europe in his State of the Union address nearly two years ago, officials on both sides of the Atlantic set a goal to complete it before the EU leadership’s term ran out.
Just over a month before Brussels changes hands, not only is the US-EU deal far from completion, but the EU’s outgoing trade chief has warned the pact – which would be the biggest trade agreement in history – is at risk of never being agreed.
Karel De Gucht said the failure of either Washington or Berlin to provide political leadership had made the chances of a deal being struck by next year increasingly dim, and warned that without an agreement in 2015 the initiative could be delayed indefinitely because of US presidential election politics.
“You can only do this deal if there’s enough political steering and enough political will to do it,” Mr De Gucht said in an interview. “Well, on both sides – on the American side but also on the European side – that still has to be demonstrated.”
Mr De Gucht’s comments come on the eve of Friday’s summit in Ottawa where EU and Canadian leaders are expected to announce the formal conclusion of their own bilateral deal that many view as a blueprint for the much larger deal with the US.
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