Civil society groups from across the European Union will participate in a meeting on Thursday to address “specific key issues of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.”
The public hearing will provide organizations and watchdog groups the opportunity to formulate public positions regarding several measures included in the secret trade deal such as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), regulatory trade stipulations and issues around sustainable development.
The secrecy around the deal and the negotiating process, which gives access to large corporations but largely excludes civil society, has been criticized as an assault on democracy.
The meeting takes place as EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstroem traveled to Washington on Tuesday for fresh talks on the TTIP.
"I will travel to Washington tomorrow to meet my counterpart, in order to advance further in these negotiations,” Malmstroem said in a statement on Monday.
Brussels and Washington have been pushing to resolve remaining issues by year's end, coinciding with the end of Barack Obama's presidency. The next round of negotiations is expected in July.
However, the proposed trade deal has been facing mounting opposition in parts of Europe, especially in Germany and France.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday slammed the planned US-EU deal, saying it was against EU interests.
“No free trade agreement should be concluded if it does not respect EU interests. Europe should be firm. France will be vigilant about this,” Prime Minister Valls stated.
He pointed in particularly to the “dramatic” consequences of ending milk quotas. The dairy industry is one of France’s prime sectors.
Meanwhile, according to a Harris public opinion survey published last week, 81 percent of those surveyed think that under the proposed free trade agreement, French laws on health, food and environment would be compromised.