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I-EU CEPA negotiations: NOT for the people

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Photo by Indonesia for Global Justice

Indonesia for Global Justice - 12 July 2023

I-EU CEPA negotiations: NOT for the people

"Urgent Action to Stop the I-EU CEPA Negotiations" is the slogan of the "Civil Society Coalition for Economic Justice (MKE)" and the "Civil Society Coalition in Yogyakarta."

The 15th round of the Indonesia-EU CEPA Comprehensive Partnership Agreement negotiations, which have been ongoing in Yogyakarta since 10 July 2023, is being conducted by the Indonesian government and the European Union Commission. No information, including the participation of civil society, was provided to the public during this negotiation, which took place behind closed doors. The protection of human rights, social justice, and a sustainable environment, particularly for Indonesian society, are at risk due to the Indonesia-EU CEPA negotiations in their current form, so we, as members of Indonesian civil society, are holding an action to demand that the European Commission and the Government of Indonesia immediately halt them.

At the UIN T-junction and the Royal Ambarukmo Hotel, where the negotiations took place, this action was staged with members of civil society and students from Yogyakarta. By taking this action, the Coalition expressed its concern that the agreement being negotiated might result in domestic regulations being changed solely to protect investors, leading to unequal socioeconomic development within and between countries and being a roadblock to sustainable development.

The Indonesia-EU CEPA should be halted until these fundamental difficulties are overcome, for the three primary reasons listed below:

1. No guarantee exists that human rights (HAM) will be upheld.

  • The abandonment of democratic rights:
    The coalition expressed regret at the closed-door, opaque nature of the negotiations. Since the negotiations began in 2016, civil society organizations have not participated. From descriptions of the conversations that took place throughout the negotiations, very little information is accessible. Despite the fact that this would affect everyone, it will unite Indonesia and all of its citizens. If the negotiation process is not open, how will the community and the (DPR) study and examine the impact?

The European Commission will tolerate a decline in human rights and labour protection in Indonesia if it allows Indonesia to include Government Regulations in Lieu of the Job Creation Law and trade and investment facilitation arrangements and measures in CEPA. The ratification of a Government Regulation in Lieu of the Job Creation Law is a violation of the democratic rights of all Indonesian citizens and a violation of the Constitution by the Government of Indonesia, as found in Court Decision No. 91/PUU-XVIII/2020. These regulations also facilitate investors’ access to and extraction of natural resources and the exploitation of labour and markets on a larger scale, without guaranteeing the protection of human rights, the environment or a commitment to economic justice.

  • Putting the protection of corporate and investor rights ahead of those of the people’s rights:
    Liberalization and the protection of investor interests are two key objectives of the Indonesia-EU CEPA. This is seen in a number of the agreements in this document.

Digital trade chapter The Indonesia-EU CEPA contains provisions for the free flow of data across borders and lack of source code transparency for users of digital applications, which give large technology companies the opportunity to monopolize data and demand the removal of all restrictions on data movement across national borders. The use of data, which now should be under the sovereignty of the people, is threatened by the lack of laws governing its collection, use, and storage by corporations. Large technology corporations now use society as a target market in addition to society as a source of data for data extraction (data mining). Data colonization in Indonesia will only happen if EU Big Tech entities are given data monopoly protection under the Indonesia-EU CEPA.

Intellectual propert rights Chapter: The proposal from the European Union demonstrates the EU’s desire to defend corporate monopolies in the health and agricultural industries. The Indonesia-EU CEPA will include TRIPS (Aspects of Trade Related to Intellectual Property Rights) Plus provisions, which will further restrict Indonesians’ access to affordable medications and health technologies. These provisions include bans on parallel imports, extensions of the patent protection period, and data and market exclusivity even for new uses for outdated medications or the same medication for children. Furthermore, by insisting that the UPOV Convention 91 (a convention on the protection of plant varieties created by numerous European countries) be incorporated into this agreement, the EU will undermine farmers’ rights and sovereignty over seeds. The biodiversity of Indonesia’s ecosystems will be threatened by the arrival of imported seeds.

In the Investment Chapter, The Investment Court System (ICS), a method for resolving investment disputes, is proposed by the EU. The investor state dispute settlement system’s basic principles continue to apply to this mechanism. Only when national policies are thought to be harmful to investors’ interests will this mechanism grant investors the right to sue the state, in this case Indonesia. The compensation awards made possible by this system have the potential to be extremely expensive for the host government of the foreign investor, as well as to produce the so-called "scare effect" and hold the public interest hostage.

2. Absence of Social Justice.
The Indonesia-EU CEPA will control all facets of social life, including women, workers, farmers, fisherman, and indigenous peoples, in addition to exports and imports. Liberalism in the public sector is crucial. The Indonesia-EU CEPA will have an impact on how easily individuals can obtain public services. Privatization of the water, energy, health care, and education industries will increase expenses that only the wealthy can afford while also causing prejudice in society.

The loss of the right to social justice in Indonesia has been made worse by the lack of a complete (economic, social, and cultural) impact analysis system that engages public engagement. The Indonesian government has only so far performed a business-focused economic cost-benefit study. On the other hand, policy makers have paid little attention to talks about the social and human rights implications experienced by Indonesian society, especially the impact of international trade agreements on the environment.

As required by the Constitution, the DPR RI did not conduct an effect analysis before approving the ratification of foreign trade agreements in Indonesia. Article 11 (2) of the Constitution of 1945 and Constitutional Court Decision No. 13/PUU-XVI/2018 require the DPR RI to conduct a preliminary impact study of any international agreements that may have broad-ranging negative effects. In addition, the DPR RI frequently only participates after the contract has been signed, and their function is essentially limited to ’stamping’ the ratification of a treaty.

3. Refusal of the Duty to Preserve the Environment.
The CEPA, according to the EU and Indonesia, will hasten the agenda for a transition to a green economy, particularly in the area of energy. The Indonesia-EU CEPA does not, however, reflect the commitment to uphold the right to environmental sustainability. This is due to the fact that agreements for trade and investment liberalization under the Indonesia-EU CEPA will only serve to promote the growth of the extractive economy, notably in Indonesia, and exacerbate the global climate problem.

Provisions of the Indonesia-EU CEPA will support the EU’s strategic objectives in gaining access to key raw commodities in Indonesia. According to its version, the EU will combat trade laws it deems "unfair," particularly with relation to vital minerals, such as prohibiting export limits. The energy and raw materials chapter will also govern non-discrimination in trade and investment, including the removal of import and export taxes and the export of crucial raw commodities. Indonesia’s efforts to expand its policy options to boost downstream industrialization could be hampered by this chapter.

The construction of large-scale infrastructure that has the potential to harm the environment or cause agrarian disputes is necessary for the realization of downstream industries dependent on Indonesia’s natural resources. The Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter of the Indonesia-EU CEPA is insufficient and ineffectual in addressing concerns of the climate crisis and environmental degradation, which has the potential to have a negative impact. Instead, it has the potential to be used as a greenwashing tactic by businesses and investors to advance climate projects that deprive affected populations of living space and deteriorate their environment. Due to investment flows and corporate monopolies, women, indigenous peoples, rural communities, laborers, farmers, and fishers will lose their means of subsistence.

We ask the Indonesia-EU CEPA to be stalled until these crucial issues are handled in light of the aforementioned key factors, and we:

  • Urges the European Union Commission to refrain from including the Job Creation Law in the Indonesia-EU CEPA negotiations;
  • Emphasizes the fact that the Indonesia-EU CEPA is an inappropriate tool for regulating data governance;
  • Stops trade and investment activities that harm the environment and violate the rights of women, indigenous peoples, workers, farmers, and small-scale fisherfolks;
  • Ensuring a raw material value chain that is sustainable and shields society and the environment from the negative effects of mining and the industries that process it;
  • Conducting a gender-responsive human rights impact analysis of the Indonesia-EU CEPA.

Contact person:
Rahmat Maulana Sidik, Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) –
Olisias Gultom, Sahita Institute (HINTS) –
Lutfiyah Hanim –
Rachmi Hertanti –
Restu Baskara –
Ferry Norila –

 source: Indonesia for Global Justice