Campaigners warn EU-Canada trade deal is surrender to corporate takeover
Strasbourg/Brussels, 15 February 2017 – Eleven activists kept a sinking statue of lady justice afloat in the icy waters surrounding the European Parliament in Strasbourg, ahead of a crucial vote on a controversial EU-Canada trade and investment protection deal.
Environment, health and labour rights campaigners warn that the deal – known as CETA – would hand corporations the power to sue governments and threatens laws that protect nature, public health and social rights.
The swimmers (from France and Germany), wearing survival suits and supported by activists in three inflatable boats, urged members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to reject the deal and displayed banners in English, French, German and Dutch. The English banner read: “Sink CETA, not justice”.
Greenpeace EU trade policy adviser Shira Stanton said: “Endorsing CETA plays into the hands of populists and extremists from Europe to North America. And just as the world feels the impact of a corporate takeover in Washington, CETA threatens to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe, for the benefit of a handful of multinationals. Elected representatives from each EU country still have a chance to stop this toxic trade deal and take a stand for people and nature.”
Even if a majority of MEPs approves CETA, questions remain over whether the deal will survive further votes in national and regional parliaments.
Belgium is expected to ask the European Court of Justice to rule on the legality of a controversial system – known as the Investment Court System (ICS) – which allows multinational corporations to sue states under CETA, but not the other way around. Failure to stand up to the ECJ’s legal scrutiny would block CETA’s application.
CETA’s aim is not only to eliminate trade tariff barriers, but mainly to remove any obstacles to trade and investment due to differences in laws and regulations between the EU and Canada. Campaigners warn that this could result in an assault on public protection measures.
An independent study found that CETA could cause the loss of 200,000 jobs across the EU, while the European Commission’s own assessment (pdf) predicted only a tiny impact of 0.02 to 0.03 per cent long-term GDP increase for the EU, and a 0.18 to 0.36 per cent increase for Canada.
Note: CETA spin unspun – a myth busting Q&A on the EU-Canada trade deal.