Campaigners have presented a petition signed by more than three million people to scrap a controversial trade deal to the European Commission (EC) in London on Wednesday 7 October.

The petition, which has 3,263,920 signatures from across Europe, demands an end to the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a controversial EU-US free trade deal that has clauses which have been negotiated behind closed doors in Brussels by US and EU representatives.

Proponents argue increased free trade is good and TTIP will promote multilateral economic growth but critics say the secretly negotiated pact will make it difficult for national governments to regulate markets or have a say on EU food, health and environmental safety laws. A year ago the EU and Canada finished negotiating a similar trade deal, known as CETA.

No TTIP campaigners
Elsa Buchanan / IBTimes UK

After blowing up a 6m-high inflatable TTIP Trojan horse in front of the EC office in central London, campaigners handed the petition to Jacqueline Minor, the EC's head of representation in the UK.

Members of groups including Global Justice Now, 38 Degrees, Friends of the Earth, War On Want and Stop Aids, also handed the representative a letter, which IBTimes UK had access to.

"Together, we call on the institutions of the European Union and its members states to stop the negotiations with the USA on the (TTIP) and not to ratify the CETA with Canada," the letter read.

At almost exactly the same time, David Cameron made a speech at the Conservative party conference in which he defended TTIP as a vote winner.

No TTIP campaigners
Elsa Buchanan / IBTimes UK

The petition had originally been intended to act as a European Citizens Initiative, a formal mechanism whereby a petition with a million signatures from seven or more EU states can force the Commission to formally respond to their request and hold a public hearing in the European parliament.

In September 2014, however, campaigners accused the EC of attempting to "stifle democracy" after it had ruled the TTIP petition to be invalid on a technicality, a move that is currently being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.

While David O'Sullivan, the EU ambassador to the US, said at the end of September that he believes Brussels and Washington could complete their trade pact by 2016, little is known about when negotiations might end or when ratification could take place.

On 5 October, negotiators of another free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finally reached a deal after five years of talks. The deal is between 12 countries, including the US, Japan, Australia and Mexico, and covers around 40% of the world's economy.