Act now to stop CETA!

Tim Flitcroft asks for your support to stop a toxic trade deal. Write to your MP today

11th October 2016

Stop-CETA-2

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a deal negotiated between the EU and Canada which poses a major threat to our democracy, public services and the environment.

It’s part of a corporate and neo-liberal agenda that has sadly overtaken many aspects of the EU – and must be opposed every step of the way. As Britain is still a member of the EU, the UK government will be soon asked for its position on this trade deal.

CETA is about to be voted on at the Council of European Union in Luxembourg on October 18 and, if agreed, signed on October 27 at the summit between the EU and Canada.

The European Commission is pressing for immediate provisional application of CETA and reserves the right to make CETA “EU competence only” if the European Court of Justice rules the Singapore BIT to be “EU competence only” (early 2017).

In this case CETA will be fully implemented and there will be no opportunity for individual member states parliaments to vote on it (where in that scenario if one of the 28 states vetoes CETA, then it will fail.)

If it does become “EU competence only” then it will be fully implemented and due to Article 30.9 of CETA “in the event that this Agreement is terminated, the provisions of Chapter Eight (Investment) shall continue to be effective for a period of 20 years after the date of termination of this Agreement in respect of investments made before that date”.

This means that everything from environmental protection, public services, and labour rights to consumer safety laws and food standards could be under threat – thereby inhibiting the government from acting in the public interest for some 20 years.

Chapter Eight allows foreign corporations and investors to sue the UK government through the Investor Court System for millions of pounds in compensation if UK legislation affects their profits.

So effectively the vote on October 18th could be the last chance the British government has to extricate itself from ICS claims for 20 years by opposing CETA.

That’s why its time to act.

The NoTTIP campaigning group is urgently asking for your support.

We want people to write to their MPs urging them to raise this issue in the House of Commons as a matter of urgency. You can find the draft letter to use below. Please take this chance to oppose a toxic trade deal for the UK and Europe.

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Draft letter to send to your MP 

Dear XXX

The trade deal CETA is about to be voted on at the Council of European Union in Luxembourg on October 18 and if agreed, signed on October 27 at the summit between the EU and Canada. At present the UK government supports CETA.

CETA is a major new business deal that was negotiated in secret between the EU and Canada over five years from 2009 to 2014. It stands for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement and it represents one of the ‘new generation’ of trade treaties on behalf of big business that are set to undermine our democracy and destroy our basic rights. CETA will lead not just to economic losses but also to rising unemployment and inequality, with negative implications for social cohesion in an already complex and volatile political climate according to the most up to date assessment (see note 3).

The UK will be subject to the provisions of CETA whatever our relation with the EU until we formally leave but it goes further than that. Due to Article 30.9 of CETA “in the event that this Agreement is terminated, the provisions of Chapter Eight (Investment) shall continue to be effective for a period of 20 years after the date of termination of this Agreement in respect of investments made before that date”, it means that everything from environmental protection, public services, and labour rights to consumer safety laws and food standards could be under threat – thereby inhibiting the government from acting in the public interest for 20 years. Chapter Eight allows foreign corporations and investors to sue the UK government through the Investor Court System (ICS see note 16) for millions of pounds in compensation if UK legislation affects their profits. The referendum last June indicated that the British people certainly did not expect Brexit to mean continuing EU control over our legislative process for a further 20 years.

So while the PM is trying to take back control of UK borders at some cost to the economy, she is at the same time throwing away control of our legislative processes and regulatory procedures with negligible economic benefits to the UK. CETA is designed to protect the interests of corporations at the expense of ordinary people – to benefit the few at the expense of the many, quite contrary to the Prime Minister’s new agenda.

I am very concerned there has been no debate either in Parliament or in the media despite the imminence of the vote and widespread opposition in Europe and the UK. This is the last chance for the UK government to make its voice heard and extricate itself from ICS claims for 20 years if CETA should be fully implemented.

Could you therefore please table the following question as soon as possible at Prime Ministers Question time or at another time for Oral questions like “Exiting the EU” on Mon October 17th or to raise the issue via some other House of Commons procedure:

“Given the fact that CETA (the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada) is about to be agreed on October 18th and signed on October 27th, can the Prime Minister ensure there will be a debate on CETA in Parliament as a matter of urgency?

In the meantime until Parliament has a chance to debate CETA, could she agree the UK government will neither sign up to nor authorise ‘provisional application’ of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).”

Opposition in Europe and UK 

CETA has caused widespread opposition throughout Europe. The Dutch and Irish parliaments have passed a motion rejecting provisional implementation of CETA. Austrian Vice Chancellor Kern has spoken against it and the government has been shaken by a split. Luxembourg and Belgium have said they will vote against CETA or abstain. Bulgaria and Romania have issues over visas and will refuse to sign unless addressed. Both the TUC in the UK and trade-unions throughout Europe are opposed. There is a legal lawsuit being brought at the Federal Constitutional court in Germany and a legal challenge to ICS may be brought at the European Court of Justice.

Over 3 million Europeans voted against TTIP and CETA in the European Citizens Initiative of which 500,000 were from the UK. In addition there was a public consultation by the European Commission on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which was opposed by 97% of respondents (the Investment Court System is only different from ISDS in respect of procedure, in essence it is the same – see below 15, 16).

Below is further information about CETA and ICS from a number of organisations.

Yours sincerely,

………………………………….
Information on CETA:

[1] War on Want: What is CETA?
http://waronwant.org/what-ceta
[2] Global Justice Now: What is CETA?
http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/what-ceta
[3] The most recent study of the Economic Impact of CETA on the EU
http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/ceta_simulations.html
[4] Current status of CETA and how it affects the UK after Brexit
http://arstechnica.co.uk/tech-policy/2016/07/ceta-eu-mixity-details-analysis/
[5] Politics: The Canadian trade deal which will let in TTIP by the back door
http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2016/09/01/canadian-trade-deal-will-let-in-ttip-by-the-back-door
[6] This article from the Financial Times is behind a paywall.
“European and Canadian authorities are aiming to ratify the CETA at talks in Brussels next month but political resistance in Austria and Belgium presents a fresh threat to the pact as it cannot come into force without unanimous support from all 28 EU member states. The leadership of the Austrian government is divided on CETA.”
https://www.ft.com/content/caa1f46d-7792-3c24-90aa-d0e9c7d248d1
[7] Politico: Europe nears trade deal with Canada
http://www.politico.eu/article/eu-nears-trade-deal-with-canada-keeps-ttip-on-life-support-ceta-europe/
[8] Global Justice Now: CETA – TTIP’s little brother, a guide to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada
http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/ceta-ttip-little-brother-global-justice-now.pdf
[9] This blog gives a good outline on why CETA will weaken our regulations, protections and increase privatisation.
Citizen Action Monitor: CETA – What it is and why it’s bad for Canada
CETA — What it is and why it’s bad for Canada
[10] This article discusses how dangerous CETA is because 80% of US companies have subsidiaries in Canada.
Public Citizen: Tens of Thousands of U.S. Firms Would Obtain New Powers to Launch Investor-State Attacks against European Policies via CETA and TTIP
https://www.citizen.org/documents/EU-ISDS-liability.pdf
[11] Here’s the story about the EU asking Canada to re-work some of CETA.
CBC: EU quietly asks Canada to rework trade deal’s thorny investment clause
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-europe-trade-isds-ceta-1.3412943
[12] 38 Degrees: DIY Brexit results, trade section
http://diybrexit.38degrees.org.uk/
[13] 38 Degrees: 6 things you need to know about CETA
https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/607
[14] Client Earth: Legal briefing EP Legal Service Opinion on ICS in CETA
http://www.documents.clientearth.org/wp-content/uploads/library/2016-09-05-legal-briefing-ep-legal-service-opinion-on-ics-in-ceta-ce-en.pdf
[15] Corporate Europe Observatory: ISDS rebranded as ICS, rights for corporations to sue states refuse to die
https://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2016/02/zombie-isds