One of the big goals of President Obama's trip to Europe may be in jeopardy, with French objections threatening to hold up the launch of negotiations on a U.S.-European Union free-trade pact.
The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has raised expectations of boosting growth and jobs by eliminating tariffs and other barriers. It would create a market with common standards and regulations across countries that account for nearly half the global economy.
And it would be a sharp departure from years of squabbling over such matters as agriculture, food safety, climate-change legislation, financial deregulation, and intellectual-property enforcement. There had been signs of carefully choreographed plans to announce the start of talks next week, when Obama attends the G-8 summit of leading economic nations in Northern Ireland.