The architects of the current wave of trade deals have embarked on a desperate ploy to salvage something from the death of their flagship treaty. Sacrificing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP in order to get CETA (the close relation of TTIP, a deal between the EU and Canada) agreed was always going to be a risky strategy. The taste of victory has simply whetted the appetite of the campaign to stop CETA. That campaign is now making real waves.
Late last week in Bratislava, EU officials finally admitted that TTIP would not see the light of day during Obama’s term of office and therefore the future of the deal is extremely uncertain. The call from four countries of the EU (including Austria and France) to stop TTIP negotiations and to restart the whole process with a fresh mandate accentuated the death of the deal. Negotiations scheduled for 3 October in New York will be zombie negotiations as they go through the motions in order to save face for Cecelia Malmstrom and Michael Froman, the heads of the trade teams in the EU and US respectively.
So what happened to CETA? Certainly CETA’s boat has sprung a few leaks and the trade ministers gathered in the Slovakian capital busied themselves in bailing out the water that has started to threaten this project. This in itself is a huge victory – we never imagined we’d have such an effect on this deal which seemed ‘certain’ 18 months ago.
At the behest of the German centre-left SPD (Germany’s Labour Party) there will be a new annex, or protocol, added to the text designed to allay a few fears, but nothing is changing in the actual working content of the deal and once more the EU machine is trying a cosmetic change while pretending it will make a real difference.
Their key immediate target is to keep the EU/Canada summit on track. It’s scheduled for 27 October in Brussels, and there’s now been an extra Foreign Affairs Council meeting quickly organised for 18 October. With a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives which is set to formalise a decision on provision application of CETA on 12 October, the places have been set to smooth out any disagreements, to twist the necessary arms and to strike the right deals to ensure a summit that runs without hitches.
Campaigners should take great heart from the current situation. While the victory against TTIP was not completely unexpected, no one thought the trouble CETA is currently experiencing was on the cards. For the first time we see the possibility of killing off CETA, or maybe inflicting substantial damage on the deal to remove the worst aspects of it.
With a huge extra effort, with an increase in lobbying of our MEPs, especially those in the Labour and Conservative parties, we can push this campaign to return a better result than we dared imagine a few short years ago when we started campaigning on TTIP.
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