Commission should encourage public debate about trade after damning ECJ ruling

Brussels – The European Commission should encourage a public debate about alternatives to current trade policies, following a damning ruling by the General Court of the EU on Wednesday, said Greenpeace.

The ruling on 10 May annulled a decision by the Commission in 2014 to block the registration of a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) petition calling for a stop to EU trade talks with the US (for an agreement known as TTIP) and the rejection of a trade deal with Canada (known as CETA). The petitioners, including Greenpeace, warned against the effects of TTIP and CETA on democracy, the rule of law, the environment, health, public services, and consumer and labour rights.

The registration of the ECI and the collection of at least a million signatures from across the EU would have forced the Commission to issue an official response and triggered a debate in the European Parliament. Despite the Commission’s rejection, the petition collected close to 3.3 million signatures in under a year.

Greenpeace trade policy campaigner Kees Kodde said: “The Commission should pull its head out of the sand and react to the public conversation about the future direction of EU trade policy. Silencing critical voices because they challenge a trade dogma that tramples on people and nature will only foster bitterness and resentment. To become a force for good, trade must no longer be an end in itself, but a means to strengthen our social rights and keep us within planetary boundaries.”

TTIP negotiations have been suspended following the election of US president Donald Trump, who has been critical of certain trade agreements. On the other hand, CETA is expected to provisionally enter into force during the summer 2017, with its full application pending ratification by national and regional parliaments in the EU.

Contact: Kees Kodde – Greenpeace trade policy campaigner: +31 65 36 23 818,