Next week, members of the European Parliament have the chance to vote for a legal check on one of the most controversial issues in the EU-Canada trade deal.
ClientEarth is calling on MEPs to ask the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on investor rules in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
In an open letter, ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton said: “This request for an opinion is essential to avoid serious legal difficulties the EU may face if CETA is challenged at a later date.”
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has caused much controversy in recent weeks, in particular on the legality of investor rules ISDS and ICS.
This vote will determine whether the European Parliament should seek an opinion from the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of CETA with EU law.
ClientEarth’s letter calls on MEPs to ask for an opinion by the ECJ to protect the powers of the courts of the EU and EU countries.
ClientEarth analysis shows that ISDS and ICS, which would effectively create a court system available only to foreign investors, are incompatible with EU law.
An opinion by the European Court of Justice would offer much-needed legal certainty and would put the trade policy of the EU on solid legal footing.
The Walloon Parliament has also questioned the legality of investor rules in CETA, and made their support of the trade deal conditional on Belgium asking judges at the EU Court their opinion on ICS.
However, Belgium has not made this request yet. By voting in favour of a request for EU Judges to make the legal check, European Parliament – the only EU institution that directly represents EU citizens as a whole – would show that it is committed to the rule of law.
It would also demonstrate that the European Parliament is listening to critical voices, as the Walloonian Parliament did, and would avoid leaving responsibility for getting the legal check solely in the hands of the regional parliament.
The European Parliament has new and expanded powers since the Treaty of Lisbon. Asking EU Judges for this simple check would show it is living up to its new responsibilities.