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Case studies demonstrate EU member state protections threatened by CETA

CIEL | 7 March 2018

Case studies demonstrate EU member state protections threatened by CETA


Geneva – A series of new case studies published today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) reveals that the Canada-EU trade deal (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA) may strip EU Member States of their ability to regulate in the public interest. Using the examples of mining licensing in Greece, industrial emissions permitting, and pesticide regulations, the briefings detail how CETA’s domestic disciplines and preemption provisions threaten to limit the ability of EU Member States to protect human health and the environment from dangerous industrial processes and toxic chemicals.

Because the European Commission, Council of Ministers, and European Parliament have approved CETA, large portions have provisionally came into force. EU national parliaments must also ratify CETA, however, before it can take full effect. If they fail to do so, the deal is off.

“These briefings aim to equip EU Member States with a more complete understanding of what powers and jurisdiction they could be giving up if they decide to ratify CETA,” says Layla Hughes, Senior Attorney at CIEL. “Under the guise of lowering trade barriers, this deal would lower pesticide regulations to the lowest common denominator, and it would protect corporate profits over all else, including public health and the environment. If Member States are serious about their duties to serve the public interest, they should reject CETA.”

Little discussed and particularly dangerous are CETA’s domestic disciplines, which provide new ways to pressure governments into granting extraction and pollution permits and new legal avenues to challenge them when they are denied.

The case studies provide evidence that CETA would allow Canada and Canadian corporations to challenge licensing procedures that involve any degree of discretion or evolving environmental protection standards, undermine the EU’s precautionary approach, and likely impose serious obstacles on government efforts to protect people and the environment from activities that threaten the integrity of both.

Access the four case studies here.


Media Contact:

Amanda Kistler, +1 202.742.5832,

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is uses international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL is a non‐profit organization dedicated to advocacy in the global public interest, including through legal counsel, policy research, analysis, education, training and capacity building.

What others are saying about the briefings:

“In the case of the Greek mining sector, these briefings are important in exposing the extent to which CETA would allow Canada-based companies to challenge legal requirements, mining standards, environmental protection, and decisions made by our competent authorities. CETA’s domestic regulation provisions underscore civil society’s concerns; they would make our efforts to prevent the extractive industry’s environmental degradation even more difficult. This study is a useful tool in the hands of the civil society to continue our current struggle for a healthy environment and the fights that are yet to come.”

Konstantinos Koutsonikolas, Naturefriends Greece, naturefriendsgreece (at)

“The new CIEL studies highlight significant risks for Europe in the CETA agreement. CETA threatens the European pesticide and chemical regulations designed to protect the environmental health of EU citizens. That alone should be unacceptable to Europe, but it gets worse. CETA also creates the potential to weaken EU regulations for the licensing of production facilities and their emissions. As CETA includes arbitration tribunals, companies can challenge emission standards set by national authorities, including any public involvement in setting the standards. Therefore CETA is not only a threat to the European environment and public health, but also a threat to democracy.”

Kevin Stairs, EU Policy Officer for Greenpeace

“These reports show that CETA will limit Slovenia’s ability to protect its people and apply the precautionary principle when it comes to pesticides and food safety regulation.”

Andrej Gnezda, Slovenian environmental group Unamotera

“Ireland is one of the Member States whose Parliament has not yet taken a vote on whether to ratify the CETA or not. It is also a country that has a key reliance on our Agri-Food Industry and prides itself on a clean, green reputation, based on the quality of our environment. It is clear from the CETA provisions highlighted in these CIEL reports that they compromise our ability to maintain that reputation, in the way they can erode our approach to regulation. It would be simply madness to ratify the CETA, the benefits to a few in no way compare to the costs to the many.”

Attracta Uí Bhroin, Enviormental Law Implementation Group at the Irish Environmental

 source: CIEL