What is CETA

What is CETA



CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is a trade deal between the EU and Canada which poses a major threat to our democracy, public services and the environment. The deal was passed in the European parliament on 15 February 2017 and entered into force provisionally on 21 September 2017. This means that most of the agreement now applies. However national parliaments and some regional parliaments in the EU need to approve the deal before it can take full effect. This ratification process is still ongoing. The deal  will apply to the UK while we are still in the EU. CETA is also being mentioned as a model for future UK trade deals.

What is there to be afraid of CETA?

Much like (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), CETA’s ultimate ambition is to reduce regulation on business. In practice, this can lead to reducing standards in either the EU or Canada in order to find a compromise between the different standards. This could lead to a race to the bottom in areas such as food safety, public services and environmental regulation. CETA will also allow big business to sue our government if they see their profits threatened by new laws.

Threatening public services

CETA will lock in privatisation of public services, so that future governments find it harder to take health services or the railways back into public hands.

Danger for the climate, food standards and workers’ rights

CETA would give corporations new opportunities to influence laws and weaken important legal protections. That would be bad news for food safety, the environment and workers’ rights.

Secret corporate courts

CETA could introduce the Investor Court System (ICS), which allows Canadian corporations (and US firms based in Canada) to sue our government if they see their profits threatened. In December 2017, the Belgian government submitted a request to the European Court of Justice to ask if the corporate court system proposed in CETA is compatible with EU law. If the EU court rule that it is incompatible, this will require a renegotiation of CETA and the ICS and would be a major blow to the legitimacy of corporate courts. A court opinion is expected in spring/ summer 2019.

No public scrutiny

CETA was negotiated in even more secrecy than TTIP. The negotiation process was started in 2009 and was formally concluded in September 2014. While trade unions, civil society organisations and even our MPs have been largely excluded from negotiations on CETA, big business has enjoyed significant influence throughout the process.

However, such was the pressure built up by the CETA campaign, which was intrinsically linked with the campaign against TTIP, the ratification process in the EU has taken almost three years and still has not been completed.

Next steps

CETA passed in the European parliament on 15 February 2017, and was‘provisionally implemented’ in September 2017. Each member state of the EU has to ratify the deal. If some of it has been enacted and a country votes against it, they will still be subject to the live’ parts of the deal for two further years. If or when the deal is fully approved, however, completely leaving the deal could take up to 20 years.

Between October 2014 and a year later more than 3 million people from all over the EU signed a petition to stop TTIP. It’s clear that that people do not want deals like TTIP and CETA. Our representatives need to start paying attention to those who they are meant to represent.

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