The US government has pressured the European Union to lower or do away with environmental and consumer protections as part of negotiations on a joint trade deal, German media reported based on leaked documents set to be disseminated Monday.
Environmental group Greenpeace provided 240 pages of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) documents to Germany's Sueddeutsche newspaper and broadcasters WDR and NDR and plans to publish them on Monday.
The documents show that Washington has threatened to block efforts to ease exports of European cars if Europe does not agree to allow the sale of more US agricultural products, Sueddeutsche newspaper reported.
Greenpeace says that the deal would strike at consumer protections that block genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and hormone-treated meat by doing away with the EU's precautionary principle, which obliges regulatory caution when there is scientific doubt over a product's suitability for human consumption.
"The details from the closed-doors negotiations that reached the public sounded like a nightmare - now we know that this could very soon become the reality," said Juergen Knirsch, an expert on trade at Greenpeace.
The environmental organization also charges that big business has been heavily involved in drafting the agreement, citing its previewing of the documents.
Since the start of the talks, activists have called for the release of all TTIP texts. But officials on both sides of the Atlantic have stressed the importance of keeping the negotiations secret in order to strike the best deal possible.
Negotiators from the United States and the EU said after talks in New York on Friday that they remain hopeful of completing the TTIP trade agreement this year despite popular opposition, the US elections and a British vote on whether to stay in the EU.
TTIP has faced strong opposition from the public both in Europe and the US, where anti-free-trade rhetoric has gained prominence among candidates in both main political parties ahead of November elections.
Once finalized, TTIP would create the world's largest free trade area with 800 million people. The final deal will require approval from European Parliament and the governments of the bloc's member states.
US President Barack Obama has made trade a key item on his agenda for his remaining months in office and pushed for the deal in Germany last week while attending an international trade show in Hanover alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.