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The great CETA swindle

With a fast approaching European Parliament vote on the EU-Canada trade deal CETA and potential subsequent rows over its ratification in EU member states, CETA continues to draw heavy criticism. A close look at the text of the agreement – and recent declarations designed to reassure critics and gain support for its ratification – shows that concerns over CETA are well-founded. Behind the PR attempts by the Canadian Government and the European Commission to sell it as a progressive agreement, CETA remains what it always has been: an attack on democracy, workers, and the environment. It would be a major mistake to ratify it.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is hugely controversial. A record 3.5 million people across Europe signed a petition against CETA and its twin agreement TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). European and Canadian trade unions, as well as consumer, environmental and public health groups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reject the agreement. Constitutional challenges against CETA have been filed in Germany and Canada and the compatibility of CETA’s controversial privileges for foreign investors with EU law is likely to be judged by the European Court of Justice.

The controversy has also reached governments and parliaments. Across Europe, more than 2,100 local and regional governments have declared themselves TTIP/CETA free zones, often in cross-party resolutions. National and regional parliaments, too, worry about CETA, for example in Belgium, France, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Ireland, and the Netherlands. In October 2016, concerns in four sub-federal Belgian governments (led by Wallonia) over the agreement’s negative impacts, and in particular its dangerous privileges for foreign investors, nearly stopped the federal government from approving the signing of CETA.

Over the past months, to salvage CETA’s ratification process, European and Canadian trade officials have gone into a massive propaganda mode. They have framed CETA as “a very progressive trade agreement” (European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström) which will “shape globalisation” along the principles of “fair trade” and in the interest of workers (Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier).

The latest PR move of the CETA supporters is a multitude of 39 declarations and statements accompanying the text of the agreement. These texts are designed to alleviate concerns amongst Social Democrats, trade unions, and the wider public who fear that CETA threatens public services, labour and environmental standards and undermines governments’ right to regulate in the public interest. But in fact, the declarations do nothing to fix CETA’s flaws.

Read the full report (also available in German, French and Bulgarian) to see through the many swindles, which CETA supporters are currently engaged in, in order to win support for what is actually a major assault on democracy, workers, and the environment:

Swindle #1: CETA protects workers’ rights

Swindle #2: CETA is a good deal for the environment

Swindle #3: CETA’s investor rights safeguard the right to regulate to protect the environment, health and other public interests

Swindle #4: CETA protects public services like healthcare and water

Swindle #5: CETA establishes an independent court to settle investor-state disputes

Swindle #6: CETA will uphold standards to protect people and the environment

Full report: The great CETA swindle

Also available in German: Der große CETA Schwindel

Also available in French: Le monumentale arnaque de CETA

Also available in Bulgarian

On both sides of the Atlantic, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is hugely controversial. A record 3.5 million people across Europe signed a petition against CETA and its twin agreement TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). European and Canadian trade unions, as well as consumer, environmental and public health groups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reject the agreement. Constitutional challenges against CETA have been filed in Germany and Canada and the compatibility of CETA’s controversial privileges for foreign investors with EU law is likely to be judged by the European Court of Justice.The controversy has also reached governments and parliaments. Across Europe, more than 2,100 local and regional governments have declared themselves TTIP/CETA free zones, often in cross-party resolutions. National and regional parliaments, too, worry about CETA, for example in Belgium, France, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Ireland, and the Netherlands. In October 2016, concerns in four sub-federal Belgian governments (led by Wallonia) over the agreement’s negative impacts, and in particular its dangerous privileges for foreign investors, nearly stopped the federal government from approving the signing of CETA.Over the past months, to salvage CETA’s ratification process, European and Canadian trade officials have gone into a massive propaganda mode. They have framed CETA as “a very progressive trade agreement” (European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström) which will “shape globalisation” along the principles of “fair trade” and in the interest of workers (Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier).The latest PR move of the CETA supporters is a multitude of 39 declarations and statements accompanying the text of the agreement. These texts are designed to alleviate concerns amongst Social Democrats, trade unions, and the wider public who fear that CETA threatens public services, labour and environmental standards and undermines governments’ right to regulate in the public interest. But in fact, the declarations do nothing to fix CETA’s flaws.Read the full report (also available in German, French and Bulgarian) to see through the many swindles, which CETA supporters are currently engaged in, in order to win support for what is actually a major assault on democracy, workers, and the environment:Swindle #1: CETA protects workers’ rightsSwindle #2: CETA is a good deal for the environmentSwindle #3: CETA’s investor rights safeguard the right to regulate to protect the environment, health and other public interestsSwindle #4: CETA protects public services like healthcare and waterSwindle #5: CETA establishes an independent court to settle investor-state disputesSwindle #6: CETA will uphold standards to protect people and the environmentFull report: The great CETA swindleAlso available in German: Der große CETA SchwindelAlso available in French: Le monumentale arnaque de CETAAlso available in Bulgarian
 

Comments

Submitted by john Bates (not verified) on

Hi, good article. I was just a bit confused though, since you say that "While Canada, the EU and its Member States have inserted a number of public service reservations and exemptions... they don't apply to the most dangerous investor protection standards, like expropriation (article 8.12)".

However if you open article 8.12 in CETA, is says "A Party shall not nationalise or expropriate covered investment either directly, or indirectly through measures having an effect equivalent to nationalisation or expropriation ("expropriation"), except: (a) for a public purpose...."

Does this count as a public service exemption in the investor protection against expropriation?

Submitted by Pia Eberhardt on

Hi John,

the public services exceptions referred to in the text are in Annex I and Annex II of the CETA. Basically, everything which is not excluded from the agreement or specific provisions in these annexes is covered by the CETA text (because CETA liberalises services according to a negative list approach puts everything under its scope unless it is specifically excluded).

The headnotes to annex I and annex II list the articles, to which the reservations in the annexes can apply. And neither the investor-state dispute settlement process, nor expropriation nor fair and equitable treatment are listed there. That means that investors can always challenge measures with regards to public services if they consider them a violation of the fair and equitable treatment standard or a direct and indirect expropriation.

If you continue reading the article you have started quoting you will find that, even if a measure that has the effect equivalent to an expropriation is for a public purpose, compensation will have to be paid. So, the reference to "a public purpose" does not prevent that governments will have to pay compensation.

Please see the annex of our report Trading away Democracy for more information on all these provisions.

Submitted by Janus Kannuberg (not verified) on

When is the vote? and is there any chance that it will not go through?

Submitted by Pia Eberhardt on

The vote in the lead committee (INTA) is scheduled for 24 January. The vote in plenary is currently scheduled for 1/2 February, but could be postponed to mid-February.

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