Democracy & Transparency

CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is one of the new generation trade agreements negotiated in secret between the European Commission and Canada from May 2009 until September 2014. No Member of the European Parliament or Members of national Parliaments were allowed to take part in the negotiations.

As with TTIP, this trade agreement will affect each citizen and touch upon several topics: agriculture, car industry, chemicals, cosmetics, electronics, energy, sanitary, phytosanitary rules, minerals, pharmaceutical and medical services, intellectual property and geographical indication. The agreement was released and made public in December 2015, only after the last negotiations.

According to the official statement of the European Commission, this agreement will: “remove 99% of customs duties, boost trade, strengthen economic relations and create jobs”[1], but at what costs? CETA includes some very toxic elements for our democracy and our rights such as The ISDS (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement) or ICS (Investment Court System), the negative list of services to be liberalised, the process of ratification and the provisional application to name a few.


The ICS mechanism of arbitration, which replaced ISDS, will allow companies to sue governments over any new law or policy (that might reduce their profits in future).

Negative list

Negative listing is also undermining our rights and the rights of governments. In the previous treaties, there has only been a positive list where governments explicitly listed sectors and subsectors, which were included in the agreements. With the negative list, Governments list only their exceptions, sectors that are excluded from the agreement. This implies that all sectors and subsectors not listed in the negative list can automatically be included in the agreement.

Provisional application

The European Commission just recognized CETA as a “mixed-agreement”, which means that both the European Parliament and national parliaments will have to ratify the agreement. However, this will allow a provisional ratification of the wide majority of the agreement before the vote of national chambers. The EC respected member states’ wish to recognise the CETA as a “mixed agreement”, nevertheless with the provisional application activated it would be much more difficult for national parliaments to vote against CETA and to stop its application. Although it is important that national parliaments and their members have a say in this agreement, it is crucial that civil society and citizens understand what CETA is about.

[1] From the Official Website of the European Commission “In focus: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)”

Pros and cons

PROS: EU Commission’s summary of the outcome of CETA negotiations

CONS: Stop-TTIP, Mythbusting CETA and TTIP, May 2016


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