EU Ambassador to Canada says EU-Canada free trade deal may become law without UK parliamentary debate

EU Ambassador to Canada says EU-Canada free trade deal may become law without UK parliamentary debate

Date: 23 January 2016

A Canadian newspaper has reported that the EU ambassador to Canada has said in an interview that the free trade deal between the EU and Canada (CETA) will be presented to the EU parliament for ratification in mid 2016, with a view to the deal becoming law in early 2017. The process as laid out by the EU ambassador means that there would be no parliamentary scrutiny of individual member states parliaments before the deal comes into effect.

Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now said:

“The EU ambassador to Canada has made clear that CETA, and therefore TTIP, will mostly become law before the British Parliament has even seen the texts. Some details are still unclear, but essentially this could mean the British government facing a massive lawsuit from a Canadian or American corporation on the basis of a deal our parliament hasn’t ratified. That’s how little these trade deals have to do with democratic accountability.”

In September 2015 it was revealed that unlike their European counterparts, UK negotiators had failed to protect any UK regionally-defined produce under the trade deal.

A Europe-wide petition calling on the Commission to scrap the deal reached almost 3 million signatures in 2016.

Criticisms of the deal include:

  • The unreformed version of ISDS, the secret corporate tribunals, in CETA is even more dangerous than proposals being discussed in TTIP with no right of appeal for targeted countries and no transparency.

  • CETA will make it more difficult for governments to regulate to prevent the sort of financial crises experienced  in 2008

  • CETA 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.

  • CETA 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.

  • CETA locks in privatisation and deregulation at current levels  for a wide range of services.

Canada is also a major base for subsidiaries of major US oil, gas and mining firms who will be able to launch investor-state challenges against European governments.  There is a long history of Canadian corporations using ISDS mechanisms to sue governments using other  bilateral trade deals, including a mining company recently announcing litigation against Romania for cancelling a gold mine that was ruled to be illegal, and a Canadian energy company suing Canada for Quebec introducing a moratorium on fracking.

Read the Global Justice Now briefing on CETA