French government seek to delay EU-US free trade talks by a fortnight over spying claims

France has said it wants a “temporary suspension” of free trade talks between the EU and the US while claims that the Americans have been spying on EU countries are investigated.

A government spokeswoman said that delaying the talks by a fortnight “would be wise”.

The EU confirmed yesterday that it would be going ahead with the talks, due to start next Monday, although it did say that the matter would need to be cleared up for the talks to be successful. The talks are expected to take at least a few years.

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said that stopping the talks from going ahead over political issues like the eavesdropping scandal would be akin to the EU shooting itself in the foot. A recent study commissioned by the EU showed that a free trade agreement could boost EU GDP by €119bn and US output by €95bn.

France had been reluctant to start the talks in the first place, wanting to keep the movie and television industry out of the negotiations to shield it from Hollywood.