MPs must defend democracy by rejecting CETA today

MPs must defend democracy by rejecting CETA today

Date: 26 June 2018
Campaigns: Trade

As MPs finally get to debate CETA, the EU-Canada trade deal, in parliament today, civil society groups warn this toxic trade deal threatens our democracy and public services, calling on MPs to reject it.

  • It threatens our democracy by undermining the right of parliament and the public to decide on laws and policies in the public interest
  • It could introduce a system of secret ‘corporate courts’, giving big business the power to sue states for policies they say could affect their profits
  • Like TTIP, its failed US-EU counterpart, CETA would weaken social, health and environmental standards
  • CETA could make it impossible to re-nationalise privatised services like utilities and railways
  • Rejecting the deal would allow MPs to develop an alternative based on transparency, democracy and fairness

Ruth Bergan, director of the Trade Justice Movement, says:
“The EU-Canada trade deal will impact on all areas of everyday life. Tabling a vote on it now is a travesty of democracy. There has been no proper process in the UK for public engagement and MPs have not had sufficient input. A vote in favour would leave us with a template trade deal before we have even sorted out the basic principles for UK trade policy.”

Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, says:
“If CETA passes through parliament today, it will be a nail in the coffin of British democracy. Our message to MPs is clear: vote no to CETA. Do it for our public services, for our economy, so we can eat safe food and breathe clean air. That’s what it means to take back control.”

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, says:
“Secret talks, corporate courts, and almost no scrutiny in parliament – CETA is exactly the kind of trade deal Liam Fox would love to sign after Brexit. MPs should seize the chance to make this PR stunt backfire: reject CETA, and demand the automatic right to vote on trade deals in future. Otherwise, it could be the last trade deal they ever vote on.”

Kierra Box, Brexit campaigner at Friends of the Earth, says:
“This dodgy deal threatens our health, our human rights and our environment. Soon, the government could be negotiating hundreds of new deals around the world, so we must be confident that they can do it right. This is their chance to show that they can deliver a transparent process and a deal that puts people and the planet first.”​

The statement calling on MPs to vote against the deal has been signed by UNISON, GMB, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs, Global Justice Now, Trade Justice Movement, Trade Justice Scotland, Banana Link, Labour Behind the Label, National Justice & Peace Network and War on Want.


CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) was negotiated over five years between Canada and the European Commission. These talks were held in secret, denying MPs, MEPs and the general public any opportunity to review the content of this controversial deal.

The actual ratification process in the UK is a rubber stamp, but the government has taken the unusual step of giving MPs a vote in a process that is usually a formality. MPs must seize this opportunity to vote against this toxic deal.

CETA will have a devastating impact in the UK and beyond, worsening inequality and increasing social tensions across Europe. Its secret negotiations were already used to bring tar sands oil into Europe for the first time.

Though passed in the European Parliament, CETA’s future remains uncertain due to a string of legal hurdles and entrenched opposition in Canada and across Europe. Millions of EU citizens previously signed a petition to stop CETA.

The provisions on corporate courts are currently on hold, following public pressure and legal challenges, but pose a huge risk if implemented. They allow companies to sue for compensation in response to policy changes that they perceive as undermining their profits outside of the national legal system.

Read the full statement: