Five leaked pages of a draft declaration on the EU-Canada trade deal, CETA, have surfaced ahead of a Council meeting on 18 October when all member states will be asked to adopt the deal. It has done little to placate the concerns of the agreement’s critics. EurActiv Germany reports.
At a 23 September meeting of EU economic and trade ministers, the European Commission promised to draw up a declaration that would aim to address concerns about the free trade agreement, in an effort to keep the deal on track.
The leaked text aims to clarify several points that have been the source of controversy and concern, including investment and environmental protection, regulating in the public interest and sustainable development.
The French parliament’s European affairs committee has rejected a resolution calling on France to block the ratification of CETA, just days before Prime Minister Manuel Valls is due to visit Canada. EurActiv France reports.
Guy Taylor, of Global Justice, said that “Now that TTIP is widely acknowledged to be effectively dead, Brussels is doing all it can to salvage CETA. The declaration has no legal basis, is devoid of substance and only goes to show how desperate the Commission is to obtain support for a corporate coup that has been condemned across Europe.”
One of the main areas of concern of both CETA and TTIP, the matter of investment protection, is addressed by the text, which states that “governments may change their laws, regardless of whether this may negatively affect an investment or investor’s expectations of profits”. It added that the case would be decided by an objective tribunal and that any compensation awarded would not exceed the loss suffered by the investor.
Despite ongoing protests around Europe, the EU still wants to conclude the CETA agreement with Canada within the next five weeks. The German agricultural sector is divided in its opinion of the deal: large farms relish the advantages and small enterprises fear transatlantic competition. EurActiv Germany reports.
For many, the clarifications made in the document do not go far enough. First to criticise the text yesterday (6 October) was Greenpeace, whose legal expert, Andrea Carta, slammed the document for having the “same value as a travel brochure”. He added that it is nothing more than a PR exercise on the part of the Commission and is not a serious attempt to deal with the problems raised by the deal.
“These leaked documents prove just how much trouble this toxic trade deal is in,” Guy Taylor added. “They show a panicky Commission in Brussels issuing a series of defensive declarations, organising extraordinary meetings of ministers, and staying in a permanent state of crisis to try and legitimise a trade deal that is deeply unpopular and deeply undemocratic.”
Nevertheless, the executive is continuing with the previous timetable for signing and bringing CETA into force. On 18 October, the Commission hopes that all member states will adopt the text at a Council meeting in Bratislava and that it will be signed at the EU-Canada summit on 27 October. It will then be up to the European Parliament to vote on the final agreement.