EU suspends investment chapter of free trade talks with US for 3-months public consultation

BRUSSELS – The European Union says it is suspending a part of the free trade negotiations with the United States to hold a three months-long public consultation amid worries about the deal’s proposed rules for investment.

EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said Tuesday “some people in Europe have genuine concerns” about the planned investment agreement and the EU therefore seeks their input to ensure a “more transparent and impartial” system that closes legal loopholes.

The Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s executive arm, says the suspension won’t derail the overall negotiations that officials hope to conclude by the end of the year.

Non-governmental organizations and some officials have voiced unease over what they say are loopholes in proposed rules on investment that might expose governments to lawsuits by multinational firms.