‘Toxic’ EU-Canada trade deal to be voted on by European parliament on Wednesday
- UK could still be locked into aspects of the deal for decades after Brexit
- Fears for labour rights, environment and consumer standards
- Trade Minister admits that UK has failed to protect regional food products like Cornish Pasties and Cumberland Sausages
Global Justice Now trade campaigner Guy Taylor will be in Strasbourg from Tuesday onwards for comment and interview.
The controversial free trade deal between the UK and Canada will be voted on by the European parliament on Wednesday 15 February in Strasbourg. Over three million people across Europe have signed a petition calling for the deal to be scrapped, arguing that the deal will hand a raft of new powers over to corporations enabling them to influence and weaken government policies relating to the public sector, labour rights, consumer standards and the environment.
Liam Fox, the Secretary for International Trade has been accused of trying to dodge proper parliamentary scrutiny of the deal, after failing to fulfil a commitment for a parliament-wide debate and instead holding a smaller committee debate last Monday while the rest of parliament was debating the Brexit Bill. During Monday’s debate, Greg Hands, the Minister of State for International Trade admitted that unlike European counterparts, the UK had failed to protect any regional foodstuffs such as Cornish Pasties or Cumberland Sausages as part of the deal, leading to concerns from the food industry.
An expert opinion on CETA and Brexit has shown that if the UK doesn’t formally leave the EU before CETA is ratified, then it would be tied into the ‘corporate courts system’ of the trade deal for a period of twenty years after announcing any intention to leave the deal.
Nick Dearden, the director of campaign group Global Justice Now said:
“This trade deal has very little to do with trade, and everything to do with handing corporations a frightening raft of new powers with which to alter laws and regulations to their benefit. We’re just emerging from a referendum where ‘taking back control’ was the dominant rallying cry, and yet here we are with politicians handing over more control to unelected and unaccountable multinational corporations. Millions of people across Europe have clearly stated that they want this toxic trade deal to be scrapped, and it would be a travesty for democracy on Wednesday if MEPs ignore them.”
If MEPs vote in favour of CETA on Wednesday in the European parliament, the deal will still need to be approved in national parliaments across the EU, although large parts of the deal will start to come into effect on a provisional basis on the first of March.
CETA has been widely opposed by civil society groups across Europe and Canada because:
- it contains a similar system to TTIP that enables corporations to sue governments for enacting laws and regulations that might harm their profits
- negotiations have already laid the basis for tar sands oil – one of the world’s most environmentally destructive fossil fuels – to flow into Europe. If CETA comes into effect, the import and production of this toxic fuel will increase, devastating the environment.
- it contains a ‘Regulatory Cooperation’ chapter which threatens to hand multinationals a greater role in the formulation of making laws, and sparking a race to the bottom in standards for important areas like food safety and environmental regulation.
- it locks in privatisation and deregulation at current levels for a wide range of services.
Nick Dearden writing for the Independent today, By signing CETA with Justin Trudeau, the EU isn’t undermining Donald Trump – they’re helping him.