MEPs to vote on CETA early 2017

The European Parliament vote on CETA – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada – will be early next year. At the end of November, it decided not to postpone that vote for two years by referring the whole agreement to the European Court of Justice. The Court is anyway due to examine the question of the legality of the proposed Investor Court, a part of the agreement which will not be applied pending that examination, even if the agreement as a whole is approved by the Parliament.

Parliament will therefore vote in January or February 2017 on CETA as a whole. Having had no fewer than 25 parliamentary debates during the ups and downs of the negotiations over the past 9 years, a final decision is now around the corner.

It should be noted, however, that national parliaments must also ratify CETA, so we can expect a vote in Westminster too. The importance of this part of the process was highlighted in October when Wallonia – one of Belgium’s regions with the power to co-determine Belgium’s position – voted to oppose CETA. Last minute concessions were made and Wallonia acquiesced.

The situation in the UK is of course different in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU on the 23 June. Indeed, there’s a real danger now that the UK government may adopt a more ardently free market approach to future British trade deals, without any safeguards at all for consumers, workers or the environment.

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4 Comments

  1. Dear Mr Corbett,

    We have deep concerns about CETA and urge the European Parliament to reject it, particularly if the chapter on IS courts has not been removed.

    The ECJ is surely unlikely to miss the opportunity to enlarge its remit via CETA by having a high degree of control over the new Courts, albeit at the expense of equal access to Justice for national investors investing in their own country and competition rules re discriminating against your own national businesses and people (reverse discrimination) in favour of a select class of foreign people/companies.

    Therefore please can you also ensure as an MEP, with like-minded MEPs, that the Joint Interpretative Instrument is legally binding regarding assurances about the ability of national governments to make their own laws, policies and decisions regardless of the consequences for investors?

    Currently the Joint Interpretative Instrument only is for guidance, so similar to a strategically-placed fig leaf, it can fall away quite easily.

    There is 1) a developed body of law in the UK re compensation for companies who are damaged by some changes they could not have foreseen or reasonably insured against e.g. or compulsory purchase of land etcn, 2) freedom of contract so terms can be adjusted, according to the investor’s risk and 3) the ability for foreign companies to insist in their investment contract on arbitration to settle disputes.

    Therefore these new CETA IS courts will create totally unnecessary social division and further disillusionment with the EU.

    New trade structures should have the “advertised” values of the EU embedded in them – social cohesion, justice, workers’ rights and encouraging environmentally responsible behaviour; CETA does not, so what does this say about the EU’s commitment to these values?

    There are major concerns about the protection of public services including those outsourced by the NHS and social services, the removal of Local Government’s ability to favour in any way local businesses as well as the Government’s ability to respond to future scientific findings and technological development.

    If there are worries amongst Canadians about specific member states’ legal systems, these should be addressed separately and on an individual basis. Even a cursory examination of the differences in member states’ legal systems should make it clear that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” court system that can be fit every country’s current legal structure. EU law previously has worked with national legal systems and not in parallel. Worse, the CETA structure is borrowing much from the WTO’s dispute resolution system which is a mediation rather than legal approach. Then adding a dash of arbitration features and legal features to it for good measure. The result looks like a very badly baked cake – too many chefs does not quite cover it!

    All the best with your good efforts.

    St.Andrews TTIP Action Group

  2. Please note that although ICS is not in the Provisional Application if the ECJ decide that the EU-Singapore agreement is EU competence only then the Commission could decide to make CETA EU competence only. This would make the full application of CETA immediate revoking the need for member state ratification and the full implementation of ICS. So by voting for ICS the UK will be put in a very dangerous position as the Investor protection clauses have a 20 year run off even after leaving Europe.

  3. Dear Mr Corbett,

    CETA supporters are currently trying to frame the agreement as “progressive”. They are also are arguing that a ‘yes’ to CETA would send a strong message of support for a rules-based trading system, which is at stake under US president Donald Trump.

    In a comment piece for EU Observer below Pia Eberhardt counters these arguments. Because it is precisely Ceta’s rules that are the problem. They will further shape globalisation in the interest of corporations, without providing any effective protection for workers or the environment. They will also significantly limit democracy.

    A similar comment was published (in German) by German daily newspaper “Frankfurter Rundschau” earlier this week: http://www.fr-online.de/gastbeitraege/freihandelsabkommen-ceta-ist-klassenkampf-von-oben,29976308,35136388.html

    I hope you find this useful information with regards to next weeks decision on CETA in the EU parliament and I very much urge you to block CETA.

    https://euobserver.com/opinion/136857

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