The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US, has been the focus of public debate in recent months. However, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is in the process of approval by the Council and the European Parliament by the end of this year.
Following the same logic as TTIP, CETA aims for much more than completely opening the European market to Canadian goods and services and vice versa: it is also designed to harmonize regulations on both sides of the Atlantic. CETA with its 42 chapters and approximately 1500 pages of technical complexities must not be overlooked.
The secrete negotiation strategy employed by the EU Commission as well as intense intervention of business lobbyists during this process has encouraged political mistrust. Additionally, all major trade agreements that were negotiated in the past required the approval of national parliaments. Although the European Commission now conceded that CETA will be considered a “mixed agreement”, it still aims for a provisional entry into force of most of the agreement directly after the vote of EU institutions, before national and regional parliaments can decide. Such a provisional application of the treaty would constitute an attack on democracy. The right of public authorities to regulate could be restricted by the mechanism of regulatory cooperation and the creation of an ad hoc dispute settlement jurisdiction (the ISDS, rebranded as the “Investment Court System”); potential significant environmental consequences as well as the potential weakening of sanitary and consumer norms as trade in goods and services would be widely liberalized. As a consequence, our model of society as a whole is in jeopardy.
Presented as an agreement promoting growth and jobs, CETA profoundly modifies the content and the procedures of our public decision-making models by promoting private interests. Democracy, public interest and fair trade are threatened in the interest of multinational corporations.
Time to open closed doors has come. What do we really know about these agreements negotiated in secret? Which consequences could they have on citizens’ life and on our environment? Access to the more problematic and representative chapters of the spirit of the agreement, open debates at national and local level and the vote on the text: Unravelling CETA launches an open and public campaign on this free trade agreement in the European public sphere.
The Progressive Caucus is a space of dialogue based on confidence-building and open debate. It aims at analysing differences and building bridges between progressive allies in the European Parliament and across Europe. It has been established by progressive MEPs of different political groups and is open to everyone in the community of the European Parliament standing for solidarity, social justice, democracy and sustainability.