BERLIN (AP) — Tens of thousands of people marched through downtown Berlin on Saturday to protest planned transatlantic free trade pacts.
Police said around 100,000 took part in the demonstration, while organizers claimed 250,000 turned out, banging on drums, chanting slogans and waving signs and flags opposing the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, with the United States, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.
Germany's government has pushed the TTIP, saying it will boost the global economy and give smaller and mid-sized companies a better chance at competing on the world market while reducing bureaucracy.
Protesters, organized by the Confederation of German Trade Unions, known by its acronym DGB, worry that an agreement could lower food safety standards and undermine local regulations by giving international arbitration panels the power to rule over disputes.
One float in the protest showed Chancellor Angela Merkel lighting the fuse of a bomb while sitting on a building labeled "Democracy."
The European Union and United States have been negotiating since 2013 on TTIP and supporters hope it will gain momentum now that the U.S., Japan and other Pacific Rim nations have reached an agreement on the TPP.