CETA hands legislative reins to lobbyists, new report shows

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will further empower corporate lobbyists by providing them with early, exclusive access to the legislative process, a report co-published by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) shows.

From NAFTA to CETA: Corporate lobbying through the back door” comes out today, featuring research by CEO, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, LobbyControl and Forum für Umwelt und Entwicklung into the ways in which the trade deal’s so-called Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF) increases corporate power. Set up by the CETA agreement, it is intended as a platform for corporate lobby groups to provide feedback on EU and Canadian legislative proposals even before national parliaments have had a chance to give input.

Possible consequences outlined in the report are based on experiences with the US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC), which forms part of the North American NAFTA deal and has in many ways acted as the template for CETA’s Regulatory Cooperation Forum.

Regulatory cooperation within the NAFTA framework has, for example, lead to the continuing authorisation of toxic pesticides on the Canadian market that are banned in other OECD countries. Due to the pressure exerted by corporate interest representatives in the RCC, Canada has also lost its gold standards for protecting people and planet from dangerous chemicals, leaving the EU as the current trailblazer in health and environmental protection.

However, such NAFTA-style regulatory cooperation with lobbyists will also be promoted by CETA’s Regulatory Cooperation Forum, the new report warns.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives‘ Stuart Trew, author of the study, explained:

“Canada’s experience under NAFTA shows that regulatory cooperation side-lines elected representatives. Instead it promotes murky processes dominated by corporate lobbyists. Making similar processes part of CETA puts a broad range of public health, consumer and environmental regulations on the line - they may be influenced, inhibited, delayed or even blocked by business interests."

Corporate Europe Observatory’s trade policy campaigner Lora Verheecke added:

"When the Canadian and US administrations jointly assessed six chemicals under NAFTA regulatory cooperation, their working group was dominated by big business lobbies, including some which had been instrumental in delaying a proposed ban on harmful pesticides in the EU. Here as well as in Canada CETA is linked to high risks for public health and environmental protection."

Notes to editors:

Contact:

Theresa Crysmann, Corporate Europe Observatory, theresa@corporateeurope.org, +32 289 309 30

Stuart Trew, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, stuart@policyalternatives.ca, + 613 563 1341 304