Less than two weeks after President Obama made his pitch to Europe for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), documents leaked on Monday by Greenpeace are giving many European opponents of the deal further ammunition to shoot it down.
The secret documents show, among other things, "irreconcilable" differences in some areas, and that the two sides are still at odds over U.S. demands that would require the E.U. to break environmental protection promises.
"Discussions on cosmetics remain very difficult and the scope of common objectives fairly limited," reads an internal note by E.U. trade negotiators. Because of a European ban on animal testing, "the E.U. and U.S. approaches remain irreconcilable and E.U. market access problems will therefore remain," the note says.
Proponents of the deal, which would cover more than 800 million people, scrambled into damage control mode. European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a blog post: "It shouldn't come as a surprise that there are areas where the E.U. and the U.S. have different views."
"In that sense, many of today's alarmist headlines are a storm in a teacup," Malmström added.
Those opposed to the deal were equally quick to declare it dead. "These leaked documents give us an unparalleled look at the scope of U.S. demands to lower or circumvent E.U. protections for environment and public health as part of TTIP," Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU, said. "The E.U. position is very bad, and the U.S. position is terrible. The prospect of a TTIP compromising within that range is an awful one."
"We have long warned that TTIP is a danger to democracy, food safety, jobs and public services. Now we see it is even worse than we feared," said John Hilary, executive director of the anti-poverty group War on Want.
"Today's leak shows the European Commission preparing to sell us down the river, doing deals behind closed doors that will change the face of European society for ever. It is simply unacceptable that a group of unelected officials should be allowed to contemplate such a thing without any public scrutiny."
If the deal gets pushed to the next administration, Obama will be forced to abandon not just TTIP, but likely the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 12-nation Asia trade deal that covers nearly 40 percent of global GDP. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have warned the president that there are not enough votes to get it through Congress.
The White House had no comment on the veracity of the leaked documents but said they would not derail negotiations.
"There is the potential, and we certainly are aiming, to complete these talks by the end of the year, and I don't think there's anything about this leak that is going to have a material impact on our ability to do that," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.