Commission should trust in Europe’s democratic processes instead of scaremongering, NGOs tell EU trade official

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.

The Commission unexpectedly proposed a compromise on ratification of the deal last month after protests from governments and national assemblies as well as the European Parliament. Mr Demarty’s alarming statement was seen as a sign of the Commission’s fear that the ratifying bodies would not toe its line. However, four civil society groups, including Transport & Environment (T&E), said any decision to reject CETA would be in response to its detrimental provisions, such as a system of private tribunals for investors, and not the prospective trading partner.

Cécile Toubeau, better trade and regulation manager at T&E, said: “The ratification debate about the EU-Canada trade deal is not a death warrant for EU trade policy, far from it. Europe’s democratic bodies should be left to rule on whether we have a trade policy for the many and not the few, and to do so free from hyperbolic statements being made to rattle them.”

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