Greens are standing at the forefront of a Europe-wide campaign against the toxic EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) free trade deal, after a last-ditch attempt by Belgium’s Wallonia region to block the deal fell short. The proposed deal is one of a new breed of trade treaties designed to hand ever more power to transnational corporations at the expense of our health protections, our rights at work, our rights as consumers, and vital environmental protections.
CETA is the smaller and less well-known, but equally concerning and further advanced, cousin of the hugely controversial US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The most concerning element of CETA is the mechanism which allows for corporations to sue governments for protecting the rights of their citizens. Once known as ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’, the hugely unpopular measure has now been replaced with the almost equally anti-democratic ‘Investment Court System’. Any terms agreed between the EU and Canada will set a dangerous precedent. The US will not accept a ‘lesser’ deal than their North American neighbours.
The UK is a prominent cheerleader for CETA. Trade between Canada and the UK far outstrips that between Canada and any other EU country. Therefore, following the EU referendum, all parties are trying to seal the deal before the UK leaves.
Just days after the referendum, the European Commission announced plans to ‘provisionally apply’ CETA as soon as possible. The plan would see the majority of the deal coming into force before national and regional parliaments across the EU have voted on it.
Greens welcomed the decision to give national parliaments a say, making the deal more democratic. But while the Walloons showed a glimpse of the plucky spirit of Asterix and the Gauls in attempting to resist CETA, the UK government accepted the deal without submitting it to parliamentary scrutiny.
But, despite the golden handshake photo-opportunity, CETA is not yet signed, sealed, or delivered. The accord has still to come before the European Parliament. As Greens, we are committed to voting against it when it does. And we will continue fighting to prevent it coming into force before then. CETA in disarray, and we will continue standing against it.
More information about stopping CETA and TTIP is available at: stop-ttip.org