Cross-posted from the official website of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
Despite unprecedented public opposition, the European Parliament has approved the controversial EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The vote flies in the face of millions of people, as well as trade unions, environmentalists and a broad civil society coalition who called for a rejection of the deal in both Europe and Canada.
Corporate Europe Observatory’s trade policy campaigner Pia Eberhardt said:
“Let’s not beat about the bush. CETA is a huge gift to big corporations, which gives them unprecedented powers. Corporate lobbyists will be popping champagne corks over today’s vote.
“But it’s a sad day for democracy and for the millions of Europeans and Canadians who have been demanding trade rules that benefit people and the environment.”
CETA sets dangerous precedents as it contains rules which corporations have pushed for years, but which have never before been part of an EU trade deal. These new, far-reaching privileges empower foreign investors to sue governments, grant early and exclusive access to the legislative process for business lobbyists who want to lower protection in areas such as environmental policies and food standards, and make it possible to lock in the privatisation of public services.
Corporate Europe Observatory’s trade policy campaigner Lora Verheecke, who followed the European Parliament vote in Strasbourg, said:
“The mobilisation against CETA has been one of the strongest European democracy movements ever. But most EU parliamentarians today turned their back on this force and chose to approve the deal.
“CETA will entrench the corporate-driven model of globalisation that is already choking our democracies by increasing social inequality, political exclusion, unemployment and people’s disempowerment.
“A glimmer of hope now comes from the many national and regional parliaments across all of the EU that still have to ratify CETA. Each one of them can bring it to a halt.”
The broad coalition of voices opposing CETA include:
- a record 3.5 million people from all over Europe who have signed a petition against CETA and its twin agreement, the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
- over 2,100 local and regional governments who have declared themselves TTIP- and CETA-free zones
- 101 law professors from 24 European countries, who in a public statement have opposed the far-reaching investor rights in CETA and TTIP, as well as the European Association of Judges, who likewise in a statement have expressed strong reservations
- trade union opposition unprecedented to an EU trade deal, including by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and many of its member federations. The Employment and Social Affairs committee of the European Parliament also recommended to reject CETAbecause of the negative impact it would have on workers.
- academic and journalistic comments by leading economists highlighting how CETA’s provisions for “cutting ‘trade costs and more’ will cause unemployment, inequality and welfare loss” (Kohler and Storm 2016), making the trade deal “a treaty which belongs to another age […] and which should be rejected” (Piketty 2016).