Two key French political figures have cast doubt on trade talks between the EU and the US, shortly after a German minister voiced the same concerns.
French President Francois Hollande told ambassadors today he did not think it would be possible to conclude on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by the end of the year.
"The negotiations are bogged down, positions have not been respected, it's clearly unbalanced," he said.
Meanwhile, French trade minister Matthias Fekl said in a radio interview earlier today that the talks on TTIP should be scrapped and started anew.
"There should be an absolute clear end so that we can restart them on good basis," he told RMC Radio.
Read more: What now? The UK and the EU Single Market
Fekl's comments follow scathing remarks from Germany's economy minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who said over the weekend the talks had all but collapsed, as 14 rounds of negotiations had yet to result in a single joint statement.
"The negotiations with the United States have de facto failed although nobody really admits to it," Gabriel said.
Dr Madsen Pirie, president of the Adam Smith Institute, told City A.M. yesterday the stern words on TTIP essentially gave the UK first dibs on a transatlantic hookup, remarking: "It is obviously easier for one country to negotiate a trade deal than it is for 27 and, far from being at the back of the queue, the UK now moves to the front of the queue in reaching a trade deal with the US."
Office of the US Trade Representative spokesperson Matt McAlvanah said: "The European Commission and EU member state leaders have clearly reiterated their commitment to moving negotiations forward. We share that commitment and throughout the summer the United States has been focused on identifying pathways to an agreement that address the priorities of both sides."
A European Commission spokesperson earlier said of Gabriel's comments: "It is worth mentioning that although trade talks take time, the ball is rolling right now, and the Commission is making steady progress in the ongoing TTIP negotiations."
Meanwhile, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom tweeted that she was having a video conference today with US trade representative Michael Froman to discuss TTIP.
Suggestions that the talks should be called off come at a politically sensitive time. In addition to the UK's decision to call it quits on EU membership in June and the US presidential elections in November, national elections are also due to take place in both France and Germany next year.