Negotiations over the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) must be governed by democracy, not hyperbole, campaigners today told trade minister Jean-Luc Demarty.
ClientEarth, Transport & Environment, the European Consumer Organisation and European Public Health Alliance wrote an open letter to Demarty following comments he made linking ratification of CETA to the very existence of European trade policy.
The campaigners said CETA marks a crossroads for European trade policy, shifting the focus far beyond traditional tariff-linked areas, and venturing into new issues like regulatory cooperation and investment.
These new provisions are the main reason why the Council, the European and national Parliaments need to be politically involved through thoughtful and progressive debates, and a final vote.
ClientEarth lawyer Laurens Ankersmit said: “CETA will significantly expand investment protection through the controversial investment tribunals between the EU and Canada. There is a real risk that not only Canadian investors, but also American investors through their Canadian subsidiaries, will be able to sue EU governments by going to these tribunals.
“It is essential that elected representatives take into account this significant downside to the agreement. The same is true for the EU-US trade agreement, TTIP. While it is losing political support quickly, it might still get in through the backdoor.”
The letter to Demarty said Europe should have more self-belief and trust its democratic processes. If any institution decides to reject CETA, this will be due to issues like investment protection and missed opportunities, and not the prospective trading partner. Such a decision would be based on the belief that the agreement will not deliver the promised benefits – at least not into the hands of small businesses, citizens and the environment.