Two and a half years after the last European elections, the European Union is suffering from multiple crises. Among them, the democratic deficit requires attention and action. The European Parliament...
CETA is TTIP Through the Back Door
The pressure is mounting on resolving the ongoing debate over the European Parliament's stance on CETA, the trade agreement between the EU and Canada. Despite a clear message from civil society and citizens against the agreement, CETA is being pushed through the EU via undemocratic means, showing clear bias towards corporations instead of citizens.
The European Parliament's Committee on International Trade meets in Brussels this week to discuss CETA. Other parliamentary committees, despite CETA clearly falling within their competence (such as the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety), are not scheduled to discuss the text before it is submitted to a vote in Parliament. The procedure follows an unfortunately familiar pattern. Europe's leaders are preventing the big decisions of our time from being taken after broad political deliberation and a basic democratic process, and rather push them through when they think no one is looking.
Last weekend, Germany's Economy Minister and Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel announced that the negotiations between the EU and the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have de facto failed. Absurdly, Gabriel also expressed his support for CETA. Mr Gabriel is contradicting himself. The problems that have led to mounting opposition to TTIP - to the point that government ministers from several leading EU member states are now opposing it - persist with CETA.
CETA has been called TTIP's "precursor" and "cousin". It is generally considered by civil society to be a Trojan horse for TTIP. CETA's proponents are attempting to make it easier to pass the widely criticised provisions of TTIP by already making these a fait accompli through the EU-Canada treaty. A crucial example is the so called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which TTIP has faced harsh criticism for, and which is also included in CETA. It looks increasingly likely that TTIP will fail, but CETA would give multinational corporations similar leverage over states and democratic legislation processes through their Canadian subsidiaries. According to US-based think tank Public Citizen, 81% of US corporations that would be able to use ISDS under TTIP would be able to do so under the EU-Canada agreement. CETA is TTIP through the back door.
CETA's investor-state tribunal would have detrimental effects on, for instance, the environment. Canada hosts the world's largest mining sector. Important environmental struggles in recent years in Roşia Montană, Romania, and Halkidiki, Greece, were fought against Canadian mining companies. Giving such corporations the right to sue European states in cases of, for example, environmental protection laws would be a catastrophe.
For this disastrous treaty to enter into force, it must be approved by the EU's 28 Member States as well as the European Parliament. There are plans to sign it at the EU-Canada Summit in Brussels on 27 October.
We demand transparent and democratic trade regimes. Trade agreements must not have detrimental effects on our environmental, health and social standards. We therefore call upon all EU citizens to pressure their elected representatives on national and European level to dismiss CETA.