Photo of cranes to illustrate story saying CETA legality unresolved as MEPs avoid asking judges to check

EU-Canada trade deal: MEPs vote to ignore CETA legality concerns

MEPs have voted not to refer the EU-Canada trade agreement to the European Court of Justice.

Controversial investor rules in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are incompatible with EU law, according to ClientEarth’s analysis, 101 law professors, the German Association of Judges and the European Association of Judges.

Nevertheless, MEPs voted against asking judges to check whether CETA breaches the law. ClientEarth’s analysis shows the trade deal sidelines EU courts and could let industry sue governments over public-interest lawmaking.

ClientEarth lawyer Laurens Ankersmit said: “This is a missed opportunity to get legal certainty about investment protection in Europe.

“It is disappointing that Parliament didn’t get this legal issue clarified before approving such a controversial trade deal. Asking the view of EU judges would have shown commitment to the rule of law in Europe, which is threatened by CETA’s alternative court system.”

The Walloon Parliament has also asked for this legal check, and has made it a condition of the regional parliament allowing Belgium to sign CETA. Under Belgian law, the national government can’t sign the deal until its six regional parliaments approve it.

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Mike Bird