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The puzzle of public opposition to TTIP in Germany

  • Alexsia T. Chan and Beverly K. Crawford

Germany is pivotal to the success of any trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. As the third largest exporter in the world, Germany is dependent on open markets; throughout the post-war period, government support for free trade has been unequivocal. Despite these positive incentives for expanding free trade, both German business and the wider public voiced fierce opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). TTIP became a flash point for the German public to overcome collective action problems and create a broad protest movement against a free trade agreement for the first time in German history. This movement enabled the public to successfully exercise influence on German foreign economic policy-making, which had long been protected from public pressure. By 2015, the success of that pressure in penetrating the policy-making apparatus combined with growing government concern about the potential of international firms to undermine national policy. As a result of the confluence of these two forces, German leaders changed their position in TTIP negotiations.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Alexsia T. Chan, 198 College Hill Road, Department of Government, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY 13323. Email:
Beverly K. Crawford, 101 Stephens Hall, International and Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720. Email:
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