Farmers, trade unionists protest EU-US free trade talks

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Hundreds of farmers and trade unionists are protesting in Brussels against negotiations to set up a trans-Atlantic free trade zone, which they fear will leave them out in the cold at the expense of big multinationals.

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Farmers built fires and set off firecrackers close to EU headquarters early Friday, where only a few hours earlier a summit of EU government leaders had ended.

A coalition of trade unionists, environmentalists and farmers fear that a trans-Atlantic trade deal will weaken environmental protection standards and further decrease subsidies to an agricultural sector already squeezed in the wake of the crisis.

The talks have been bogged down for a year as both sides try to find agreements on everything from the financial services sector to food safety.