By Cécile Toubeau, better trade and regulation directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: It has been a bumpy year for European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. No one predicted the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Nor could the polls foretell the outcome of the US election, with Donald Trump winning on a largely anti-trade ticket. Both of these events came in response to the uneven sharing of the spoils of globalisation; a disproportionate share of the gains has ended up with the global elite, while median wages stagnate or decline.
The refusal by MEPs to refer the controversial Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to the European Court of Justice in a vote today is an abdication of their responsibility, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The European Parliament has the power to request an opinion by the Luxembourg court on the compatibility of trade agreements with the EU treaties. But the resolution to refer the Canada-Europe trade deal, over concerns about the creation of a new ‘Investment Court System’, was defeated by 419 votes to 258.
Claims that CETA is a ‘gold standard’ of trade deals for the betterment of people and the planet are undermined by a toothless environment chapter that cannot be properly enforced and a tribunal system which will prioritise corporate interests, according to a new analysis by green group Transport & Environment (T&E) and legal NGO ClientEarth. The Canada-EU deal’s environment chapter does nothing to encourage climate mitigation measures, such as transitioning to renewable energy, as called for in the Paris climate agreement which was signed by both Canada and EU. On Wednesday, 23 November, MEPs will vote on whether to refer the agreement to the European of Justice.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union is presented as one of the most progressive trade agreements ever negotiated. This analysis conducted by legal NGO ClientEarth and T&E looks into a number of key areas in CETA with likely implications for environmental protection.
In line with its Better Regulation agenda the Commission publishes roadmaps at the very beginning of the legislative process setting out its initial ideas for a legislative proposal. On 1 August 2016 the Commission published its roadmap for a Council Decision proposal authorising the Commission to negotiate a Convention to establish a multilateral court on investment.
Some of the world’s most valuable forests are still being destroyed in order to make palm oil, of which a considerable portion ends up as biodiesel for use on Europe’s roads. That is the striking message from an investigation by a global alliance of NGOs, including T&E, that has uncovered horrific deforestation in Indonesia’s pristine rainforest in the remote province of Papua. T&E says this highlights the urgent need for the EU to correct the anomalies in European legislation that allow climate-harming biofuels to count towards climate targets.
The EU’s certification system for the sustainability of biofuels is ‘not fully reliable’, the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the independent EU body in charge of scrutinising Europe’s public spending, has said. In a report in July it found that the certification system ‘did not adequately cover some important aspects necessary to ensure the sustainability of biofuels’. The majority of ‘sustainable’ EU biofuels are certified through European Commission-recognised voluntary schemes.
Europe should trust its democratic processes in scrutinising the proposed Canada trade deal (CETA) and not try to scare governments and the European and national Parliaments into ratifying the EU agreement. That was the message of civil society groups in a letter to the European Commission’s director-general for trade, Jean-Luc Demarty, after he said the bloc’s trade policy will be “close to death” if it cannot ratify the deal.
Giving national parliaments a say on the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) greatly strengthens the legitimacy of such agreements, and there has never been a time when this was needed more, environmental NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. Responding to today’s European Commission statement that CETA will be proposed as a ‘mixed’ agreement and will need to be ratified by national parliaments, T&E said the decision follows the revised negotiation mandate granted by EU member states in 2011 and numerous statements by governments including those of Germany and Austria.
A new report issued by T&E and other civil society NGOs analyses the investment court system included in the trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA). The report finds that the inclusion of such as system will undermine democracy, rule of law and environmental protection.