EU and Canada to push through ‘anti-democratic’ trade deal

Thursday, 25 September, 2014

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) includes a clause that will allow multinational companies to sue the UK government over decisions they believe might harm their profits, including decisions on the NHS, education and other public services.

The clause will establish an ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) mechanism to allow companies to sue governments in secretive tribunals instead of in national courts. Companies have already used the ISDS system to sue other governments for renationalising privatised health services, setting minimum wages, freezing energy prices and putting health warnings on cigarette packets.

The CETA deal is being seen as a model for the controversial TTIP deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the US, which has sparked widespread protests on both sides of the Atlantic.

The EU-Canada deal will next go to the European parliament, most of whose members have not formally seen the deal until this week. They cannot amend the agreement, but they can throw it out. It is unclear whether or not the agreement will come before the British parliament. 

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said today:

The CETA trade deal grants multinational companies the power to challenge any government decision they don’t like. Not only does it strike a body-blow to democracy, but it could also cost UK taxpayers billions of pounds if corporate legal cases against the government are successful. And it is being pushed through without any opportunity for public debate. We call on the European parliament to reject this appalling deal.

The agreement of the CETA deal will be greeted with protests tomorrow in London, Brussels and Ottawa. There will be protests against the TTIP deal across the UK, Europe and the US on 11 October.

Photo: Council of Canadians. Canadian protest against the CETA deal.