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  • MEPs rubberstamp bad deal for people and planet

    MEPs’ vote to back the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) today rubberstamps a deal that does not put people or the planet first, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The NGO called on the European Commission to immediately establish a CETA civil society forum to monitor its future implementation, particularly the provisions of the sustainable development chapter.

    Cécile Toubeau, T&E director of better trade and regulation, said: “Our public representatives should not support a trade deal if it is a bad trade deal. Yet MEPs have rubberstamped an agreement with a toothless environment chapter that cannot be properly enforced and a tribunal system which will prioritise corporate interests. The reality is that CETA is a bad deal. Over the coming months we call on national parliaments to ensure a national debate on the claimed benefits and possible negative impacts of the agreement.”

    CETA’s environment chapter does nothing to ensure climate mitigation measures, such as transitioning to renewable energy, as called for in the Paris climate agreement signed by both Canada and the EU. Also, the non-binding enforcement mechanism cannot bind the EU and Canada to uphold the already weak environment provisions.

    Now that the agreement can be provisionally applied from 1 March, T&E calls for the immediate establishment of a CETA civil society forum. The forum should: be composed of equal numbers of civil society organisations and other stakeholders; be selected by a transparent public application process; and have its agendas and minutes published online. The work of the forum and its proposals should be discussed by Canada and the EU’s CETA joint committee, and its concerns should be taken seriously.

    National parliaments must ratify the deal before the special investment tribunals, the so-called International Court System, can start operating.

    Cécile Toubeau concluded: “Before we implement an agreement negotiated in secret by EU and Canadian officials, civil society must be given a say on its roll-out. For instance, CETA tribunals will only hear cases brought by corporations, not by citizens or their governments. Not only will this see companies bypass national courts to pursue a financial payout from states, it could also threaten policies favouring the decarbonisation of transport fuel like the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive. Unlike its negotiation, CETA’s implementation must be done in a transparent and constructive manner.”